COLCHESTER schoolboy and TV superstar Dermot O'Leary has joined the judging panel of a prestigious children's literature prize.

X Factor and BBC Radio 2 presenter Dermot, who is the author of the Toto the Ninja Cat book series, will help decide the winner of the Oscar's Book Prize for 2020.

He is joined on the judging panel by Horrid Henry author Francesca Simon and book consultant Jake Hope.

The prize was founded by panel members Viveka Alvestrand and James Ashton in memory of their son Oscar Ashton, who died of an undetected heart condition aged three-and-a-half.

The award, which comes with £5,000 prize money, celebrates the best books for under-fives and is supported by Amazon and the National Literacy Trust.


Dermot, who is a famous Alumni of St Benedict's and Colchester Sixth Form College, said: "I’ve always been surrounded by books and was read aloud to from an early age.

"Books give me so much pleasure so I was inspired to get involved with Oscar’s Book Prize because it celebrates those very early books that we all need as children to show us what a truly magical experience reading can be.”

The final shortlist for the awards, of which Princess Beatrice is patron, will be announced on April 17 before the winner is crowned on May 7.