Call It Courage ; etc., etc.). However, as time went on, this kind of writing fell out of favor. Indeed, Secret of the Andes was one of the last of its genre to win the Newbery -- books such as The Bronze Bow (1962) and Shadow of a Bull (1965) certainly contain similar elements, but also are starting to move, however haltingly, toward the more modern, less exoticizing style of later winners set in foreign countries, such as Number the Stars (1990) and A Single Shard (2002).
At any rate, the Faraway Land in question in Secret of the Andes is Peru. The protagonist, Cusi, is a contemporary Incan boy who lives in an isolated mountain valley with his elderly guardian, Chuto. There is a mystery surrounding Cusi's birth and destiny, and Cusi will need to visit the outside world in order to discover who he is and what he really wants.
I'll confess that I didn't find Secret of the Andes a compelling read. The mystery around Cusi's identity felt more like a shaggy dog story to me than an intriguing puzzle. I also found the plot underwhelming -- events come out of nowhere and proceed to the same location, and far too much of the second half of the book depends on impossible coincidences. (Seemingly every secondary character seems to have a copy of Cusi's detailed itinerary.) And Ann Nolan Clark's unorthodox prose style is clearly aiming for the poetic, but often felt maddeningly circular instead. Here's a sample, from chapter 13:
"Cusi and his llamas were climbing again. Mountain peaks piled upon mountain peaks. They rolled and swelled and piled higher and yet higher. They encircled the world. They towered above the world. They enclosed the world within itself. Only a brown ribbon of trail wound in and out and around them. Only a boy and his llamas moved along the winding trail."
It's possible that other readers may like that more than I did; it's certainly unlikely that they'll like it less. Especially since it's not, as far as I can tell, aiming to imitate the language or literature of Peru, it seemed mannered and artificial, and it repeatedly pulled me out of the story.
The 1953 Newbery is widely considered the biggest mistake in the history of the award; indeed, if most readers have even heard of Secret of the Andes, it's because it's the book that kept Charlotte's Web from winning. It's difficult from this distance for me to figure out what that year's Newbery committee was thinking; indeed, one of the more plausible possible explanations I've heard is that the result had to do with the fact that Ann Carroll Moore, the former head children's librarian for New York Public Library, and one of the most toweringly influential figures in children's librarianship at the time, was involved in a bitter feud with E.B. White's editor, Ursula Nordstrom. Whatever the reason, Secret of the Andes is no Charlotte's Web, and no matter how creative I get, I can't find a good way to defend this particular win.
It's okay. Mistakes happen.