This week, Kwame Alexander speaks in Istanbul; Monica Hesse dines in D.C.; Matt Tavares signs books in Massachusetts; and New York elementary schoolers get inspired by Michelle Edwards.

Talking Turkey

Last month, Kwame Alexander (The Undefeated, illus. by Kadir Nelson, Versify), Newbery Medalist and founding editor of HMH’s Versify imprint, traveled to Istanbul, Turkey. Presented by the Republic of Turkey Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the Inaugural Forum on Children's and Young Adult Books hosted Alexander as the keynote speaker. During his address, he discussed the state of the U.S. children’s book industry and the quality of young people’s literature.

Journey Through History

On January 7, bestselling author Monica Hesse visited 1789 Restaurant in Washington, D.C., for a prepublication dinner in honor of her latest YA historical mystery, They Went Left (Little, Brown). Here, Hesse speaks to independent booksellers about the novel, which follows a teenager who is liberated from the Gross-Rosen concentration camp and searches for her brother, the only surviving member of her family.

Sign and Dasher

On the way home from the last event of the season for his bestselling picture book Dasher (Candlewick), author-illustrator Matt Tavares stopped by Target in Woburn, Mass., for a covert book signing. Pictured here, Tavares stands with Dasher beneath the Showcase wall, which is playing the Dasher book trailer. Tavares’s prequel to the Rudolph tale presents the origin story of Santa’s other reindeer.

Hats Off to You

Inspired in part by Michelle Edwards’s A Hat for Mrs. Goldman (Schwartz & Wade), third, fourth, and fifth graders at West Patent Elementary School in Bedford Hills, N.Y., embarked on a Knitting for Friends service learning project to benefit Northern California’s Paradise Unified School District. With the help of staff, family members, local knitting groups, and knitting clubs at Stanford University, UC Berkeley, and SUNY Geneseo, the children have crafted more than 500 warm winter hats for students in Butte County, Calif., whose schools were damaged or destroyed in last year’s deadly wildfires.