To celebrate Women's History Month, I will be sharing different books about women over the next several Wednesdays. In today's post, I look at Florence Nightingale and Eleanor Prentiss. Though they were contemporaries of one another, their paths would not have crossed. Florence lived in England and traveled primarily in Europe. Eleanor grew up in Massachusetts and spent years learning to navigate a schooner, which eventually led her to sail from New York City to San Francisco in record-breaking time.
Both of these women are remarkable in their dogged-pursuit of the things they loved, which at the time were careers that women did not typically pursue, especially for Eleanor. As for Florence, yes, there were female nurses in her time, but her skill and knowledge led her to develop systems and practices that would influence nursing and patient care for years.
If you are looking for picture book biographies on these amazing women to be used in classroom or school libraries, I would definitely recommend the following books.
Florence Nightingale by Demi (Henry Holt & Co, February 4, 2014) - I have not read or seen many picture book biographies on Florence Nightingale so I was curious about this one. Demi has created a biography on Florence Nightingale and her early years and what influenced her to pursue nursing and the conditions of hospitals and patient care as a career and life-long mission. Despite suffering from ill-health for much of her adult life, Nightingale never allowed it to detour her mission and focus. Her influence was so great that it is felt today with the work of the International Red Cross.
One of my favorite lines in this book is at the end...
We remember Florence Nightingale today as the driving force behind improvements in nursing during her time and as a woman of extraordinary vision, who believed that no problem, however big it seemed, was ever too big for her to solve.
Dare the Wind: The Record-breaking Voyage of Eleanor Prentiss and the Flying Cloud by Tracey Fern; Illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully (Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, February 18, 2014) - Tracey Fern brings to life both Eleanor Prentiss and her love of the sea. As I read through this picture book biography on Prentiss, I was caught up in the race she undertook from New York City around Cape Horn to San Francisco. When her schooner ran into trouble, I was amazed at how she was able to navigate out of it.
Two of my favorite lines in the book were...
Then Ellen remembered what her papa had taught her long ago: a true navigator must have the caution to read the sea, as well as the courage to dare the wind.
There is no glory in second place, Ellen thought. Now is the time for courage.
Look for both of these picture book biographies at your local independent bookstore or public library.
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