Title: Dare the Wind: The Record-Breaking Voyage of Eleanor Prentiss and the Flying Cloud
Written by: Tracey Fern
Illustrated by: Emily Arnold McCully
Margaret Ferguson Books, Farrar Straus Giroux, 2014
Suitable for ages: 5-8, (independent 8-12)
Lexile: AD880 (AD=Adult Directed)
Themes/topics: history, women, courage
Opening: Ellen Prentiss had always felt the sea tug at her heart, strong as a full-moon tide. Her papa said that was because she was born with saltwater in her veins. While other girls spent their days stitching samplers and sweeping floors, Ellen spent her days at the shore in Marblehead, Massachusetts. She chased the waves. She raced the wind. She watched great sailing ships skim over wide endless water. And she dreamed of living her life at sea and catching her share of adventure.
Brief synopsis: (from my library catalog) Ellen Prentiss’s papa said she was born with saltwater in her veins, so he gave her sailing lessons and taught her how to navigate. As soon as she met a man who loved sailing like she did, she married him. When her husband was given command of a clipper ship custom-made to travel quickly, she knew that they would need every bit of its speed for their maiden voyage: out of New York City, down around the tip of Cape Horn, and into San Francisco, where the Gold Rush was well under way. In a time when few women even accompanied their husbands onboard, Ellen Prentiss navigated their ship to set the world record for speed along that route.
Links to resources:
Activity Page posted on Parent/Teacher Resource Page
Several resources for further reading are listed in the Author’s Note.
Why I like this book: The illustrations set the scene beautifully, and the text flows with rich figurative language. The reader feels Ellen’s internal conflict when she must balance the drive to win and the safety of the crew. She is a risk-taker whose studies pay off in the battle with the roiling sea. The book immerses the reader in history and offers many opportunities for extension and exploration. There’s nothing like a hearty sea adventure, eh-matey?
Visit author Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Books for a plethora of picture books listed by title and topic/theme, each with teacher/parent resources.
6 thoughts on “Dare the Wind”
Looks amazing! My history-buff 10 yr old will love it. Thanks for sharing such a unique PB!
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I love the sea and sailing on the water. This book and your review grabbed my attention. I love stories about strong women who do extraordinary things. Great historical fiction. Can only imagine sailing around the Cape. Will check out this book!
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Very unique. What a great suggestion for a teacher especially. 🙂
A fun book, and a great adventure to boot. I love the language: born with saltwater in her veins!
I adore picture book bios and this sounds like a lovely one! What beautiful rich language. Thanks for this review!
Very cool! I knew about the Flying Cloud but didn’t know that a woman was the navigator. Awesome! Thanks for featuring this book!