The first non fiction one I read (from Netgalley) is called Samurai Rising by Pamela Turner and Gareth Hinds. It's about the life of a famous Samurai named Minamoto Yoshitsune. It has a funny disclaimer at the beginning - "Warning: Very few people in this story die of natural causes." Since it's a book about samurais, I guess that should be a given. The book tells the story of this samurai and how he came to be so famous and powerful. The story is written with a very easy to read to style and there are lots of pieces of art to help break up the text. The art work is a brushy Asian style that matches well with the book. I think bigger kids might like this one a lot... it's probably too big for the little kids at my school that are so interested in military and fighting but there is quite a bit of text.
The next one is called "Iron Rails, Iron Men and the race to link the nation" by Martin Sandler. This one is about building the Transcontinental Railroad. The text of this one was very interesting but the pictures didn't make the leap to my advanced reader's copy. I assume they will help to move the story along and be historically accurate. The book did a good job of telling about the big players in this part of history, making connections to people that played in important roles. It also did a good job of not sugar coating some of the more awful parts of this history, namely the way that the railroad bosses treated their workers (particularly the Chinese) or how the railroads encouraged people to come and slaughter the buffalo, with the complete understanding that it would completely destroy the Native people's way of life. I also liked that at the end of the book there was a part that told what happened to people after the Transcontinental Railroad was built and an extensive section of resources used. This one will probably come to live in my elementary school library.
The last one is probably my favorite of the bunch, it's really a book about teaching kids how to behave online. It's called Kindness Wins by Galit Breen. This book does an awesome job of laying out why you need to teach kids about their on line presence (based on the author's experiences both as a parent and as a person with an online presence) and then gives helpful tips for how to start a conversation about being safe on line. The end has a bunch of online resources you can use for more information or more support. The book was written in such an engaging way that it was really easy to read. I put it down pretty often, not because I wasn't interested but because I wanted to think about how I was going to use this when I go back to school in the fall. I bookmarked this one madly because there were so many things I had never thought about (and I've taught network safety to my whole school for the last three years). I'm going to make sure I tell everyone I know about this one because this is important and it's a really user friendly way to get the message out. Look for this one FOR SURE.