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.