Book Corner: Cafe Book program begins new year

August has seen the kick-off of the school year and of Cafe Book, the long-standing partnership between school and public librarians where, at the 17 participating middle schools, 7th and 8th grade students engage in lively and thoughtful discussions about books from a list of selected titles. Ranging from real-life stories to fantasy and science fiction, students will vote on their favorites at the end of the semester to contribute to a “Top Picks” list.

Simon Sort of Says, opens a new window by Erin Bow
After Simon experiences a tragic event that leads him to become internet famous in a not-so-good way, Simon and his family move to Grin and Bear It, Nebraska, where all electronic devices are banned as they might interfere with the work of the local astrophysicists looking for evidence of life on other planets. Since no one can Google Simon in Grin and Bear It, he is optimistic about starting over. As he works through his trauma, Simon makes friends and has some madcap, hilarious experiences. 

Serwa Boateng's Guide to Vampire Hunting, opens a new window by Roseanne A. Brown
Serwa has spent her entire life traveling the world with her family hunting adze, shapeshifting Ghanaian vampires. But when their family home is attacked by a powerful witch, Serwa’s parents decide the safest thing to do is drop her off in Maryland with her non-magical aunt, where she will, for the first time in her life, attend a regular school. But when an adze shows up at her school, it’s up to Serwa and her band of misfit friends to save their town.

Project Nought, opens a new window by Chelsea Furedi
Teenager Ren is living his life in the 1990s, when one day he wakes up in a lab in the year 2122.  He is confused and disoriented, and the explanation, that he has been brought to the future as part of a time travel exchange program, doesn’t make him feel any better.  He doesn’t understand how he became part of this project, and, as he tries to figure it out, it becomes quickly apparent that there is a sinister angle to the program.

Clock Striker, opens a new window by Issaka Galadima
Cast is determined to become a SMITH, a legendary class of engineering warriors, so she can use her knack for science and math to help people, starting with her own family.  This manga-style graphic novel’s illustrated action sequences contribute to the fast pace of this adventure story, as Cast is thrown into one deadly situation after another.

Invisible, opens a new window by Christina Diaz Gonzalez
When George, who is Puerto Rican, is assigned community service hours working in his school cafeteria, he expects to be working with other honors and gifted students. Instead, he finds four other students who have nothing in common except that their teachers and school officials have all stereotyped them.  While doing their community service hours, they encounter a family that is in a precarious living situation and have to decide if they will work together to help them.

Girl Forgotten, opens a new window by April Henry
When true-crime fan Piper Gray comes across the gravestone of Layla Trello, a girl who died at age 17, she decides to dig into the unsolved murder.  As Piper reveals her findings in episodes of her podcast, someone begins threatening her and warning her to back off. Understanding that Layla’s killer may still be out there, Piper doesn’t let that stop her from searching for the truth about Layla’s death.

Ablaze, opens a new window by Christopher Krovatin
Meek Aly tries to get through life and avoid bullying by keeping her head down and not getting noticed.  Aly’s life changes dramatically when her pent-up anger begins causing things to burst into flames, and she discovers she has pyrokinetic abilities.

Once There Was, opens a new window by Kiyash Monsef
After her father's mysterious death, 15-year-old Marjan is doing her best to keep his struggling veterinarian practice afloat. When she learns that her father was not only a vet for average household pets but also cared for magical creatures, she needs to make a decision about whether to take his place in the underground world of folkloric animals.

Frizzy, opens a new window by Claribel A. Ortega
Marlene, a Dominican middle schooler, has always had “bad hair." Her mother and  hairstylists complain about how hard it is to work with, and it is always contrasted to her cousin's “good hair.”  Marlene wants to experiment with wearing her hair natural and curly, and in doing so begins a journey of self-discovery to define who she is.

Darcie Caswell is the Youth Services Coordinator at CRRL. This column originally appeared in The Free Lance-Star newspaper.