Illustrated by a Caldecott Medalist, Kate’s Light shares the exciting true story of Katherine Walker and her long, heroic career as one of the first woman lighthouse keepers on the Eastern Seaboard.
When Kate Kaird immigrated with her young son Jacob from Germany to America in 1882, she couldn’t have predicted the surprising turn her life would take. She soon met and married John Walker, keeper of the Sandy Hook Lighthouse. They moved to Robbins Reef Lighthouse in New York Harbor in 1885 and she became assistant keeper.
At first Kate wondered if she could live in such a lonely place, but she gradually grew to love life at Robbins Reef. When her husband died several years later, she was determined to stay on. After convincing the Lighthouse Board that she could do the job alone, Kate was appointed permanent keeper of the lighthouse, becoming one of the first women on the Eastern seaboard to be put in charge of an offshore lighthouse. She lived there 34 years and was known for her many rescues.
With watercolor and ink illustrations which perfectly capture the salty spray of the sea, Kate’s Light brings the turn of the century New York Harbor to life, with a focus on one of its little known but most crucial attendants.
There is extensive additional material in the back of the book that includes an About Kate Walker section, photos of Kate and Robbins Reef Lighthouse, and a list of sources.
Praise for Kate’s Light: A Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection “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 about the lighthouse and the people who depended on it. Chapter book–style writing by Spires provides ample context and many anecdotes. An intrepid heroine in a lonely place, Walker had grit that makes for gripping reading.”—Publishers Weekly
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