'Harry Potter' is pipped for award

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Harry Potter has been rejected by young readers, for once, after thousands of children voted to award a top book prize to a rival author. J K Rowling missed out on the overall award in this year's Children's Book Award with the top prize going to Kes Gray for his book Eat Your Peas.

The annual Children's Book Award is voted by young readers and more than 20,000 children cast a vote this year. Rowling was hoping for a hat-trick of prizes, having collected the award twice before.

Other children's favourite Jacqueline Wilson, was also looking for her third award with her latest short novel, Lizzie Zipmouth.

But both writers were pipped to the title by Gray, who used to be an advertising copywriter before turning his talents to children's literature. Eat Your Peas is the story of Daisy, whose parents bribe her with all sorts of presents in an effort to get her to eat her greens.

Rowling's Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, won an award in the Longer Novels category and Wilson's book took the Shorter Novels award.

Eat Your Peas edged them both out in the overall award, making it the first time in 10 years that a picture book has taken the top prize.

Children's Book Award organiser Marianne Adey said she was delighted with the result. "It is good to see that children appreciate new talent when they meet a book of such high quality," she said.