Vasanti Unka is an award-winning writer, designer and illustrator noted for the originality of her storytelling, her riotously colourful and inventive illustrations and the gorgeous design and production of her picture books.
Vasanti is the illustrator of Hill & Hole by Kyle Mewburn, which was shortlisted for the Best Picture Book award at the 2011 New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. Hill & Hole won the LIANZA Russell Clark Award the same year and was also the first children's book to win the Gerard Reid Award for Best Book at the PANZ Book Design Awards.
The Boring Book (Puffin 2013), which Vasanti wrote, illustrated and designed, was named the 2014 New Zealand Post Margaret Mahy Book of the Year and also took out the Best Picture Book Award category. The judges described it as 'a remarkable book that exceeds any expectations of its genre. It exhibits the highest quality of design and its presentation is thoroughly original. The story takes delightful unexpected turns that charm afresh with each reading. Small children and older readers alike will be delighted by its subversive touches and entertained by its warmth and fun.' It also won international acclaim with its inclusion in the 2014 White Ravens Catalogue and in 2016 was named an IBBY Honour Book for the excellence of its illustrations.
Stripes! No, Spots!, published by Puffin in 2015 and described by poet Paula Green as 'scrumptious in every way', was lauded as a 2016 Storylines Notable Picture Book and was simultaneously published in the UK and US.
Who Stole the Rainbow?, a humorous mystery thriller for children about why rainbows appear and disappear, was published in 2018. To date the story has been sold to Mainland China, Taiwan and North America. It was a finalist for the Best Picture Book category of the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults 2019.
Vasanti lives in Auckland, New Zealand, where she juggles creative work and numerous book projects.
IBBY Honour Award
Awarded • 2016 • IBBY Honour Award for Illustration