The heroic true story of one of the Eastern seaboard's first woman lighthouse keepers, illustrated by a Caldecott Medalist.
Living in the isolated Robbins Reef Lighthouse, overlooking turn-of-the-century New York Harbor, Kate Walker spent her life minding the light, keeping passing ships from running aground on the dangerous shoals. Originally the assistant to her lighthouse keeper husband John Walker, after his death Kate convinced the Lighthouse Board that she was able to manage the hard work on her own.
For more than three decades, Kate lived a solitary life, often totally isolated from the mainland by rough seas and dangerous storms. Tending to the lamps and ringing the heavy warning bell, she helped ships avert disaster-- and saved many sailors from the cold, choppy waters when disaster struck.
Elizabeth Spires describes the joys and hardships of a life at sea, detailing pivotal moments in Walker's life to show her indomitable spirit, and celebrates the determination that drove Kate to keep her home and her livelihood. Paired with Emily Arnold McCully's atmospheric, vivid watercolor-and-ink illustrations of lonely lighthouses, sun-dappled afternoons, and wrathful storms, this gripping picture book brings turn of the century New York to life.
Additional material in the back of the book includes a biographical note about Kate Walker, historical photographs of Kate and her home at Robbins Reef Lighthouse, reproductions of an historical map of New York Harbor, and a list of sources for more information.
A Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection
About the Author
Elizabeth Spires is a poet and has written several books for children, including The Mouse of Amherst. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland, where she teaches at Goucher College.
Emily Arnold McCully has illustrated many books for children including Mirette on the High Wire which received a Caldecott Medal. She lives in Old Chatham, New York.
"Kate's Light is an unusual true story compellingly told."—BookPage
"Caldecott Medalist McCully's vivid ink and watercolor spreads bring to life the storms and waves that made Walker's work necessary, and brim with visual information . . . An intrepid heroine in a lonely place, Walker had grit that makes for gripping reading."—Publishers Weekly
"Spires shows Walker as a quiet heroine meeting challenges calmly and efficiently. McCully's hallmark watercolors support this focus, whether depicting the cramped conditions on Robins Reef, the pattern of life at the lighthouse, Kate braving dangerous weather, and two spectacular seascapes." —The Horn Book
"In Spires' spirited telling, Kate Walker's professional achievement is less a tale of ambitiously upending gender expectations and more a demonstration of persistently demanding recognition of and remuneration for hard-earned skills. McCully's watercolor illustrations glide smoothly from homey interiors to roiling storms, capturing Kate hammering a massive warning bell in dense fog or chattering contentedly with friends in the sunshine."—The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"McCully's loose, sweeping, yet specific illustrations combine seamlessly with Spires' clear and engaging description . . . A distinctive selection that highlights an unknown heroine and her world as a lighthouse keeper."—Kirkus Reviews
"McCully's illustrations, rendered in pen, ink, and watercolor, help to bring this setting and time period to life for younger readers. . . . a good addition to women's history units."—Booklist