Dare the Wind: The Record-Breaking Voyage of Eleanor Prentiss and the Flying Cloud

by Tracey Fern (Author) Emily Arnold McCully (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 4th – 5th Grade

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.

A Margaret Ferguson Book


Publishers Weekly

Starred Review

McCully's (Mirette on the High Wire) signature ink-and-watercolor illustrations bring to vivid life this picture-book biography of sailor Eleanor Prentiss. Dynamic lines and soft hues realistically depict Prentiss's role as navigator aboard her husband's clipper ship, the Flying Cloud, in 1851. Its 15,000-mile maiden voyage around Cape Horn was "racing to get passengers and cargo to the Gold Rush." An anomaly for her time, Prentiss learned the sailing ropes from her ship-captain father. Fern (Barnum's Bones) lyrically paints a picture of the journey's ups and downs, during which Prentiss pushes the ship to its limits with her more scientific, risk-taking navigation style: "The masts creaked and groaned.... Soon every twist of rope and thread of canvas was stretched taut. 'Catch me if you dare!' Ellen shouted to the wind... the sea sparkling green and white around her." From storm-tossed gray-green oceans and the white-icy waters around South America's southern tip to the tilting navigation room belowdecks, the story evokes the daring trip in all its glory, and the many perspectives of the often-majestic scenes bring readers aboard. Ages 5-9. (Feb.)

Copyright 2013 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

Gr 2-4--In the summer of 1851, the clipper Flying Cloud made the journey from New York City to San Francisco in a record-breaking 89 days and 21 hours despite several setbacks and dangers along the way. Much of the credit for that voyage goes to Ellen Prentiss Creesy, the ship's navigator. Based on the true story of that voyage, this book expertly describes Prentiss's early life, her love for the sea and the science of navigation, her marriage to Captain Perkins Creesy, and their remarkable accomplishment. Readers will find this fictionalized account gripping and inspiring. McCully's excellent watercolor illustrations include a number of period details and add a sense of movement and drama to the already exciting text. An author's note gives the factual background for the story, and a brief glossary serves to familiarize readers with nautical terms. This is a well-executed narrative on a topic that has not received much coverage since Armstrong Sperry's 1936 Newbery Honor book, All Sail Set: A Romance of the Flying Cloud (Winston, 1935).--Misti Tidman, Licking County Library, Newark, OH

Copyright 2014 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

*"A lively, true story about a 19th-century woman and the 15,000-mile sailing journey she navigated. . . As stimulating as sea air itself, this story will surely send the salt water coursing through the veins of its readers." — Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

*"From storm-tossed gray-green oceans and the white-icy waters around South America's southern tip to the tilting navigation room belowdecks, the story evokes the daring trip in all its glory, and the many perspectives of the often-majestic scenes bring readers aboard." — Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

"This is a spirited and fascinating tale for landlubbers and sea-lovers alike." - The Horn Book

Tracey Fern

Tracey Fern is the author of three other picture books, Barnum's Bones, Buffalo Music, and Pippo the Fool, all Junior Library Guild selections. She lives with her family in West Newton, Massachusetts.

Emily Arnold McCully has written and illustrated many children's books, including the Caldecott Medal Book Mirette on the High Wire. She divides her time between New York City and her country home.

Classification
Nonfiction
ISBN-13
9780374316990
Lexile Measure
880L
Guided Reading Level
N/A
Publication date
February 20, 2014
Series
-
Nutmeg Book Award
Nominee 2016 - 2016

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