Advertising copywriter is the 'Peas' knees

15th June 2001 at 01:00
The children's choice for the top book of 2000 should be served at room temperature to fussy eaters in reception and above.

Eat Your Peas, by Kes Gray and Nick Sharratt, is the first picture book in a decade to win the overall Children's Book Award. Mr Gray is a first-time author, a copywriter for Saatchi amp; Saatchi who successfully pitched his tale of Daisy, the offending legumes and her desperate mother's ever-increasing bribes to publisher The Bodley Head two years ago.

Mr Gray, whose book was picked from a shortlist of 10 that included the latest titles from Jacqueline Wilson and JK Rowling, took a month's sabbatical from his agency to work on writing a children's book.

Appropriately, he is the man behind the Prudential ad series "Whatever you want to be, you want to be with Prudential", as well as the NSPCC "Full Stop" campaign and he Carling Black Label "Dambusters".

"It was perfect - we didn't change a word," said Bodley Head editorial director Anne McNeill. "It made me laugh, and I phoned him right away and told him not to sell it to anyone else." She teamed him with Nick Sharratt, a prolific illustrator whose work can also be seen on Jacqueline Wilson's novels (they shared the "shorter novel" category award for Lizzie Zipmouth; the "longer novel" award went to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling).

The Children's Book Award is organised by the Federation of Children's Book Groups, an informal network of book enthusiasts which includes teachers, parents and librarians. Children in 12 regions choose a top 50 and a top 10 each year.

"I get feedback on my creative work all the time in my job, and not all of it is so pleasant," said Mr Gray.

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