If you're looking to buy rights to 'quality' children's books (anyone brave enough to suggest a definition for 'quality'?), knowing a book has already received the imprimatur of an award is always a good start. The US has its Newbery and Caldecott Medals, the UK has its Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals, and Germany has the Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis. There are countless others.
If you're looking at Australian and New Zealand books, the two major children's books awards to look for are the Children's Book Council of Australia Awards and the New Zealand Post Awards respectively. (There are plenty of other awards, of course, but these ones tend to generate significant sales.)
The winners of these two awards have been announced in the past six weeks and are well worth a look. As happens from time to time, one of the Australian winners has caused a bit of a fuss, this time for including swear words. It's enough to make me go out and buy a copy.
What children's book awards make a difference to what you read or publish? I'd be keen to hear.