Elspeth Lorraine

Book Reviews

June 2, 2023

"Courage Like Kate” The True Story of a Girl Lighthouse Keeper By Anna Crowley Redding Illustrated By Emily Sutton

Do you like stories about bravery and bad weather and the sea and being awesome your whole life? This beautiful book shares the story of Kate the lighthouse keeper’s daughter who eventually becomes not only the lighthouse keeper herself, but also a hero. In the late 18th century girls were expected to be meek and demure, not hard workers who were familiar with harsh physical labor. Kate grows up on a small island off the shore of Connecticut with her father. As he ages and the stairs to the lighthouse become too treacherous for him to climb, Kate takes up the arduous responsibility of keeping the light on. Kate isn’t just hauling whale oil, trimming wicks and experiencing harsh weather every four hours though. She also becomes a famed rescuer of sailors who have fallen overboard. In her lifetime she saved over 20 men. Even as a young girl she would row out in her small boat and rescue men stranded by storms. When Kate’s father passed she became the first female Lighthouse Keeper and retired at 66. Kate was a brave woman who declared she “feared no man”. She also had a booming business to supplement her income using oyster beds on the island.

Bits and Pieces: Read the author’s note! There’s great back matter about her life and a picture of her. Kate was a fascinating person and I love that she carved out the life she wanted even though it went against societal norms. Anna heard about this story because the surviving children from Sandy Hook adopted Kate’s lighthouse for a school project honoring their 6 year friend Ben Wheeler, who was taken from us because of senseless gun violence in America. Ben loved lighthouses and they wanted a way to honor his memory. 

Not Sure About: Why I can’t have these illustrations as wallpaper. They are that good. 

Favorite Part: Emily’s illustrations. They were rendered in watercolor, ink, pencil, and pastel. I adored their old timey vibe. Reminded me of the illustrations done for Betsy, Tacy and Tib by Lois Lensky. 

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