Grades 1-3. The daughter of a schooner captain in the early 1800s, Ellen Prentiss was just a girl when her father taught her the difficult technical skill of navigation, as well as sailing. After her marriage, Ellen navigated ships captained by her husband. When he was given command of a new clipper, the Flying Cloud, and the challenge of carrying cargo and passengers from New York City to the Gold Rush rose swiftly, Ellen navigated the ship through storms and other perils by drawing on experience, research, courage, and caution. In a picture book “based on a true story,” Fern takes as her heroine this unusual nineteenth-century woman and, in telling the tale, chooses metaphors (“her face turning white as whalebone”) from seafaring life of the period. McCully’s precise ink drawings gracefully delineate the characters and settings, while the layers of paint create depth of color and nicely textured effects. A map showing the 1851 voyage of the Flying Cloud appears on the endpapers. A handsome picture book portraying an accomplished woman.