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

Tracey Fern, illus. by Emily Arnold McCully. FSG/Ferguson, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-374-31699-0
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.)
Reviewed on: 11/25/2013
Release date: 02/18/2014
Genre: Children's
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