After a panel on diversity held last May at Charlesbridge Publishing in Watertown, Mass., co-sponsored by the Children’s Book Council, several publishers in the audience questioned why children’s book people in Boston don’t get together more often. Out of that conversation emerged the idea for a New England-based children’s group that would encompass publishers, authors, booksellers, librarians, and educators. After a summer of planning, Children’s Books Boston held its first gathering, as much a party as anything else, on September 12 at Simmons College in Boston.

Spearheaded by Yolanda Scott, editorial director of Charlesbridge; Betsy Groban, senior v-p and publisher of HMH Books for Young Readers; Cathryn Mercier, director for the Center for the Study of Children’s Literature and professor of English at Simmons College; Jennifer Roberts, executive director of marketing, publicity, and events at Candlewick; and Roger Sutton, editor-in-chief of the Horn Book, CBB drew more than 150 children’s book people, including a carpool from Maine and a contingent of children’s authors from Cape Cod.

People talked about kids’ books and where the group should be headed. “I thought the first gathering was a big success,” said HMH’s Groban. “The group was a terrific blend that included publishers, teachers, students, librarians, booksellers, authors (and would-be authors). The conversations were lively and interesting. And we were all reminded of how lucky we are to be working in children’s books along with so many awesome people.” Candlewick’s Roberts called the kick-off “energizing and fun.”

Author Irene Smalls explained to PW exactly why she enjoyed the first meeting. “As an author you spend a lot of time alone,” she said. “There’s a need for something like this.”

Exactly what “this” will be is up to attendees who filled out a form at the event on what direction they would like the organization to take and how frequently it should meet, monthly or quarterly. Additional questions encouraged people to volunteer to get CBB going.