Dare the Wind

darethewindThe Record-breaking Voyage of Eleanor Prentiss and the Flying Cloud

Written by Tracey Fern, Illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully


A beautiful picture book biography geared towards older elementary school readers, although middle school students would also find it entertaining and informative. Tracey Fern tells the little-known story of Eleanor “Ellen” Prentiss, an extraordinary woman making her mark in the man’s world of sailing. She spent her youth learning everything her father could teach her including how to navigate using a sextant, the sun, the wind and the sea itself. In 1851, Ellen not only navigated a clipper ship but also set a record for the fastest time from New York to San Francisco, navigating around Cape Horn in a record-breaking 89 days, 21 hours.

There is adventure and suspense! The author builds this dramatic story, carefully helping children understand the difficulties Ellen, her husband, and their crew faced. They’ll love how Ellen not only used her daring courage, but also clear calculations to find the fastest routes. It is a perfect book to celebrate Women’s History month in March. Tracey Fern is the author of three other picture books, Barnum’s Bones, Buffalo Music, and Pippo the Fool, all Junior Library Guild selections.

Review by Jennifer Ford, South Kearn Elementary Media Center
Rating: ★★★★★ (5 stars)
Interest Level: Grades 3-9

Dare the Wind: The Record-breaking Voyage of Eleanor Prentiss and the Flying Cloud
Written by Tracey Fern, Illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully
Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers
40 pages
Release Date: February 18, 2014
ISBN: 9780374316990 (hardcover)

Categories: Elementary – Nonfiction, Elementary – Picture Book, Jr. High – Nonfiction
Tags: Sailing, Women in History, Sextant, Record Breaking, Math, Science, Calculations, Gold Rush, Cape Cod, The Flying Cloud

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