It may come as some surprise to learn that E. B. White’s enduring classic about the barn stall travails of a spider and a pig did not win the most prestigious literary prize of its day. That honor, the Newbery Medal, went to a book about an Incan boy with a royal heritage and a herd of llama in Peru.
Both books received critical acclaim, but “Charlotte’s Web” is the one that’s more likely to be on your child’s book shelf today. Children’s book awards honor creativity and charm, but they can’t predict longevity, or how much a kid will like a book. More than a half century after “Secret of the Andes” rose to the top of the pile in 1953, the debate continues about just how much weight parents should give prizes when choosing books for their own kids. Reading into the awards, and assessing the real winners.
Eden Ross Lipson, children’s book editor, The New York Times
Roger Sutton, editor in chief, The Horn Book Magazine.