DEVIZES author Jo Empson has been shortlisted for a second national prize with her first book for children.

Ms Empson, from Dunkirk Hill, Devizes, is a finalist in Waterstone’s children’s book prize with Rabbityness, her first book for children which she wrote and illustrated herself as part of her coursework for an MA degree in children’s book illustration.

She had already been shorlisted for the People’s Book Prize summer collection awards last year.

She said: “I am over the moon to be among such an amazing shortlist of talented author/illustrators. Much thanks goes to my publishers Child’s Play International for giving me the opportunity of publishing Rabbityness and also to my family for their endless support and encouragement.”

No sooner had Ms Empson got over the excitement about being shortlisted for the Waterstone’s prize than she had two other bits of good news. Rabbityness has been longlisted for two other national awards, the Kate Greenaway Medal and the UKLA award.

The book is dedicated to the memory of Ms Empson’s brother, David, who died suddenly a few years ago.

Ms Empson said: “After we lost David I woke up one morning with the words for Rabbityness in my head.”

The story involves a rabbit who, apart from doing usual rabbity things, paints and makes music. Other rabbits hold him in scorn until one day he disappears and the woodland grows dull and uninteresting.

So then all the rabbits start painting and making music and the woods are bright and colourful once more.

Ms Empson is married to artist and illustrator John Shipperbottom. The couple’s daughter, Sophie, is also an artist.

Emma Pennell, from the Chippenham branch of Waterstones, said she was delighted at Ms Empson’s success. She said: “This is a tender story illustrated with delightfully original images.”

Ms Empson has recently published a second children’s book, Never Ever. Both are available from Devizes Books and other good bookshops.