A happy reader nabs his copy of Catching Fire. Photo: Stevekagan.com.

All eyes were looking ahead to fall, as children’s booksellers and publishers gathered in New York City last weekend for BookExpo America, the industry’s annual convention. The season’s biggest titles were on display, notable children’s authors attended and mingled, and a wide range of panels and events educated and entertained.

Given the state of the economy and the publishing business, many had voiced concerns before BEA about what the mood and the turnout might be. In the aisles of the Javits Center, though, those worries didn’t seem to be borne out. “I read in the New York Times that attendance would be down,” said Penguin’s Jessica Michaels, “but you wouldn’t know it from walking the floor. I’m really positive about the show. Our booth has been packed all day long.” Bookseller Alison Nihlean of Bookpeople in Austin, Tex., said, “It feels smaller but in a good way. All the substance is still there.”

Children’s booksellers “seem to be optimistic,” said PGW Kids’ Susan McConnell. “There’s a lot of energy and a lot of enthusiasm. The stores that have managed to hang in there are doing OK.”

BEA turned out to be a lively gathering, and there’s plenty to report on; read our extensive coverage of all the doings in this week’s Children’s Bookshelf.