Jo Empson

Jo Empson graduated from Cambridge School of Art with an MA in Children’s Book Illustration. During the course she created her first picture book Rabbityness which was published the following year in 2012 by Child’s Play International. Rabbityness has been nominated for 8 awards, including Kate Greenaway Medal and shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize and UKLA award. This was followed by a second picture book Never Ever which was awarded a Kirkus Star and also nominated for the Kate Greenaway Medal and Biennale of Illustration, Bratislava, 2015.

Recently published books are Little Home Bird published by Child’s Play International in January 2016 and Chimpanzees for Tea! published by Puffin UK and Philomel Books - Penguin US in Spring 2016.

Her background as a graphic designer has had a great influence on her work. Her illustrations are inspired by nature, with a strong sense of shape, colour and design. She loves playing with colour in the form of a visual narrative. Her abiding wish is to produce beautiful books with depth and meaning, along with a sense of fun and surprise!

Children’s books remain her passion. She is never happier than when she is swept away in storytelling – in all its aspects – whether it be writing, illustrating or just reading a favourite picture book (which she still does every night!)

Praise for Rabbityness

Highly original, this is a stunning debut picture book which celebrates creativity and difference while also serving as a touching introduction to the idea that people leave good things behind them even when they are no longer around.

Julia Eccleshare on


A short film of Jo Empson's performance in 2017