SALISBURY artist Pippa Mayell’s illustrations of a courageous cat for a children’s book have helped it win a prestigious New York book award.

Her drawings brought to life the feline hero of Hello My Name Is Bunny, a story about an adopted Manhattan cat who helps other, less fortunate, animals.

The book was a winner in the Animals category of the New York City Big Book Award, which celebrates the work of authors from all over the world.

Author Matt Bloom based the story on his own cat Bunny and found Miss Mayell’s work through a mutual friend.

The artist, of Gas Lane, impressed him with her lifelike drawings of the story’s lead character and the city she lives in, even though she has never met the real-life Bunny.

“She really caught Bunny’s character and loving nature. Her drawings brought the book to life,” he said.

The real-life Bunny was abandoned in a New York basement before being rescued by cat charity Kitty Kind. Mr Bloom used the rescue to begin his story and some of the proceeds from the book are going to the charity.

The artist used photographs of Bunny as a cue for painstaking preparatory sketches which took weeks to complete, before using them to guide the final 12 drawings and the book’s cover in ink pen, felt tip and watercolour wash.

Miss Mayell, whose childhood was spent in Malaysia, Somerset and Salisbury said: “The way I approach giving personality to what is essentially a flat image is to bring the character into three dimensions by using line and shading to model the form. The eyes are always a key feature and are especially important.”

She is hard at work on a second Bunny book, but was delighted to hear about the first book’s success.

“I feel very proud that the book has won this award against such stiff competition, and really happy for Matt the author as it is such a worthy cause,” she said.

“The only other award I have ever been involved in was the art prize at school a few times.”

Miss Mayell, who works part-time for children’s charity Julia’s House in Salisbury, has illustrated one other book about endangered tropical birds, has had several exhibitions and has been commissioned to undertake portraits.

She is now using the award success to inspire her next projects. She said: “At present I’m writing and illustrating my own children’s book, as well as working on a children’s portrait, a landscape painting and a clay sculpture. And of course I’m looking forward to illustrating some more of Bunny’s adventures.”

Hello My Name Is Bunny is available on Amazon.