Dare the Wind by Tracey Fern Book Review

Dare the Wind: The Record-Breaking Voyage of Eleanor Prentiss and the Flying Cloud by Tracey Fern
Illustrated by Arnold McCully
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux
Release Date: February 18, 2014

In a time period where women were rarely even allowed on a boat, Ellen Prentiss' papa taught her how to navigate the sea. When she grew up she met a man who also loved to sail and together she and her husband sailed the seas. When her husband was given command of the clipper ship Flying Cloud, Ellen wants to be the first one to travel from New York City, around the tip of Cape Horn, and onto San Francisco and she knows she needs to be the fastest.

A spectacular historical biography about a woman many of us have never heard of is the perfect marriage of mighty girl, history, and illustrations. Fern does a great job of conveying what is at stake and the risks that are involved. Ellen must not only prove herself at her job, but she must also prove herself as a woman. There are many questions I have that I don't think would have fit or were appropriate for this book. For example, this man she married...he must have been an extraordinary man for his time. Not only did he marry a woman who already had a very skilled job, but he was happy to let her do it in a time period where women were expected to keep house and have children. On that note, did Ellen have any children? What did the men sailing her ships think of her?

In my mind, this book has perhaps done the very thing that a good children's biography does and that is to make the reader want to learn and know more.