In 1972, Jane Yolen began the New England Region's first SCBW critique group at the Hatfield Public Library in Hatfield, Massachusetts. During the 25 years that Jane led the group, aspiring authors and illustrators regularly drove an hour or more to benefit from Jane's guidance and wisdom. As a result, Jane played a vital role in launching the careers of many noted authors and illustrators.
After Jane resigned as the critique group's leader, the remaining members adopted a system of rotating leaders, which included Peg Davol, Nancy Sippel Carpenter, Nancy Hope Wilson, and others. The Western Massachusetts Illustrators Guild (WMIG) also developed as an offshoot of Jane's highly-regarded critique group.
Our region's second critique group was established by Sue Burgess in 1980. This group, which met at the Boston Public Library, included former members of the New England Authors and Illustrators of Children's Books. Sue created a third critique group at the Westwood Public Library in Westwood, Massachusetts, in 1981. Around the same time, she began encouraging other writers in eastern Massachusetts to create additional critique groups.
In 1983, Barbara Burt and Linda Tishler established a critique group at the Concord Free Library in Concord, Massachusetts. It is the longest continually-running SCBW(I) critique group in New England, and possibly in the nation. In the same year, Susan Banta established the first SCBW New England Illustrator's Group in Cambridge, Massachusetts. By 1985, the New England Region boasted seventeen critique groups.
When the region was re-reorganized in the early 1990s, the Executive Board included a Critique Group Coordinator to serve the regions thirty critique groups. Over a 7-year period, first Linda Shaughnessy and then Kay Kudlinski worked hard to expand and support the mushrooming number of critique groups throughout New England.
When Jan Kozlowski became the Critique Group Coordinator in 1998, she realized that members needed more information about starting, running, and maintaining successful groups. She developed a collection of articles called The Critique Group Starter Packet, which is now given to every new critique group leader. In 2008, Jan introduced an email list and a series of workshops so that critique group leaders could discuss common problems, learn from each other's experiences, and develop a community.
In 2010, Jan stepped down from her position as Critique Group Coordinator and Stacy Mozer filled the position. Today, New England has more than seventy-five critique groups scattered throughout the six states and cyberspace. Our Region's first online groups began in 1998 and now include all genres of writers and illustrators.
Critique Group Coordinators
- 1991-1996 Linda Shaughnessy
- 1997-1998 Kay Kudlinski
- 1998-2010 Jan Kozlowski
- 2010- Stacy Mozer