Dare the Wind

45289-darethewindDare the Wind
by Tracey Fern; illus. by Emily A. McCully
40 pages; ages 5-10
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2014

“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.”

Ellen, who grew up in Marblehead, MA in the early 1800s, would rather sail than stitch samplers. Her father, a captain of a coastal trading schooner, taught her how to sail and – more importantly – how to navigate. Growing up, Ellen practiced navigating her father’s schooner, racing the fishing fleet across the bay.

She married a sea captain an sailed alongside, as navigator. Then her husband was given command of a fast, new clipper ship: the Flying Cloud. Their maiden voyage was from New York to San Francisco – 15,000 miles around Cape Horn – to deliver passengers and Cargo to the Gold Rush. If they made the trip faster than any ship had done, they’d get a bonus and bragging rights. Ellen was ready to dare the wind.

This is a great tale of adventure and courage on the high seas. It’s also about the importance of math – and navigation – and using a scientific approach to solving problems…. because Ellen’s routes strayed from the traditional shipping routes.

Curious kids will enjoy learning more about Ellen Prentiss in the author’s notes, and following her journey mapped on the endpapers. You can read more great reviews – and interviews with author Tracey Fern, on Kate Hannigan’s blog, Author Of… and over at Mary Ann Scheuer’s  blog, Great Kid’s Books.

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