YOUNG readers have voted for their favourite stories in this year’s New Horizons Book Award.

The award, to recognise new children’s authors, is presented every two years and is organised by the county council library service.

It also encourages young people to explore some of the best fiction for nine to 13-year-olds.

More than 500 young bookworms from schools across Dorset took part and voted for their favourite book.

Selected from a shortlist of six, this year’s winning novel was I’m Dougal Trump... And It’s Not My Fault by Jackie Marchant. New Horizons aims to encourage young readers to move away from tried and tested authors and try something new.

Youngsters are also encouraged to start writing, and more than 50 entries were submitted.

The award ceremony took place at The Exchange in Sturminster Newton and was hosted by professional storyteller, Taprisha, who told tales to people from Clayesmore Prep School, Fern-down Middle School and Shaftesbury School.

They were also inspired by fantasy writer Marcus Alexander and newly-published, local author Rebecca Westcott who explained how they became published authors.

Cllr Colin Jamieson, the county’s cabinet member for community services, said the award was a ‘wonderful initiative’ and added: “It’s all about engaging children in reading for fun and developing a wider love for reading.

“It is wonderful to see them using their imagination to develop their writing skill by exposure to good books.”

Local author Gill Lewis selected the winning entries for the writing competition in each category. Year 5 to Year 6: The Strangest Sea by Dolly Payne, (Trent Young’s Endowed Primary School) Year 7 to Year 8: Twisted Fate by Tiegan James, (Clayesmore Prep School) Each shortlisted writer received a set of books signed by Jackie, Marcus and Rebecca.

The overall winners also received Kobo Arc tablet computers.