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A literary poll of favourite children’s novel characters was conducted by National Book Tokens in honour of upcoming World Book Day on 3 March. Over 7,000 people took part in the poll in which they identified their favourite heroes/heroines and villains. The top hero and villain were both male, and both from the Harry Potter books. Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort respectively took the top spots. Of the heroes and heroines, girls took 6 of the top spots, with Roald Dahl’s Matilda, Philip Pullman’s Lyra Belacqua and J K Rowling’s Hermione Granger all in the top 5. Of the 4 males in the top 10 heroes it is notable that two of them are bears! Winnie the Pooh and Paddington are 8th and 10th respectively. In the villians list, women make up 7 out of 10, with Rowling’s Dolores Umbridge, Dodie Smith’s Cruella de Vil, C S Lewis’ White Witch and Roald Dahl’s Miss Trunchbull all in the top 5. Kristen Grant, director of World Book Day has said that the polls “show that readers are refreshingly open to reading about characters of the opposite sex – though is it worrying so many of the greatest fictional villains are female?”

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