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Courage Like Kate - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

I have the distinct privilege to introduce you to an amazingly written and illustrated nonfiction picture book about a brave, tenacious, heroic 12-year-old girl who became a lighthouse keeper in the 1800's.

Courage Like Kate: The True Story of a Girl Lighthouse Keeper


Author: Anna Crowley Redding


Illustrator: Emily Sutton


Publisher: Random House Children's Books (2022)


Age: 4-8


Nonfiction


Themes:

Courage, determination, duty, perseverance, and individuality.


Synopsis:

An inspiring and beautifully illustrated picture book biography based on the life of Kate Moore, a twelve-year-old lighthouse keeper in the 19th century who saved the lives of twenty-three sailors.


With an evocative text and stunning illustrations, travel back to the stormy, rocky shores of 19th century Connecticut and meet an unforgettable heroine— at a time when girls were considered anything but. Fayerweather Island had seen blustery blizzards and rip-roaring tides, but it had never seen a pint-sized hurricane until Kate Moore claimed that tiny island as her own. Little Kate was supposed to be the lighthouse keeper’s daughter, but she thought of herself as Papa’s assistant.

The thirty-three spiraling lighthouse stairs finally took a toll on Papa’s body, and so twelve-year-old Kate stepped up. Over the years, she kept the flame lit to guide ships to safety, listened for cries for help, and, time and again, pulled men to safety—twenty-three of them in all. At the age of forty-seven, Kate received word—she had been named the official lighthouse keeper of Fayerweather Island. This girl-power picture book introduces a small heroine, who, with her can-do attitude and incredible spirit, is sure to inspire.


Opening Lines:

Fayerweather Island had seen blustery, bone-chilling blizzards.

It had seen rip-roaring rising tides and wicked windswept waves.

Yet it had never seen a pint-sized hurricane—until five-year-old

Kate Moore claimed that tiny island as her own.


What I LOVED about this book:

I adore the opening image of Kate Moore and the description of her as "a pint-sized hurricane." She did seem to be what some call "a force of nature." she's described as a young girl determined to be her father's "assistant," not just the lighthouse keeper's daughter. Emily Sutton's gorgeous illustration buffets the reader with the wind blowing across the island and smell the salt spray whipped off the waves.

Text © Anna Crowley Redding, 2022. Image © Emily Sutton, 2022.


For the next six years, Kate helped her father garden, shepherd sheep, milk cows, and collect rainwater. Anna Crowley Redding's succinct text is full of alliteration, onomatopoeia, and lyricism. "when greedy gales grabbed gobs of sand to steal Fayerweather back into the sound, Kate planted tree after tree to root her island in rock."


Before we go too far, I'd like to draw your attention to the end pages. Interestingly, sometimes the end papers hint at something in the book or provide an introduction and conclusion to the story. The end papers here, besides being stunning, feel like representations of Kate's personal perspectives of the island. Arriving as a five-year-old, the island would seem big, a whole world to explore. But at the end, as an adult who'd tended the lighthouse for 61 years, it would be her little piece of paradise surrounded by those she watches out for. I love what Emily's done with her watercolor, ink, pencil, and pastel illustrations and the way she's shown Kate's growth.

Images © Emily Sutton, 2022.

When Kate turned twelve, her father couldn't climb the stairs and despite society's belief that women "were absolutely, positively not capable of such bravery, courage, or strength," Kate donned trousers and, daily risking her life, she conquered the hard work, braved the treacherous weather and tortuous steep stairs (you're going to love the lengthwise illustration of the winding staircase), and courageously worked through tedious late nights. With eight lamps to fill & tend (especially on windy nights), she only grabbed catnaps in her bed or next to the lights. In addition to tending the lamps, Kate spent the nights listening for cries for help from capsizing sailors.

Text © Anna Crowley Redding, 2022. Image © Emily Sutton, 2022.


Even the ominous, stormy illustrations contain hope and beautifully demonstrate Kate's determination. Detailing the surprise of rescued sailors and Kate's eventual application to officially be appointed lighthouse keeper, this wonderful nonfiction biography does an excellent job in both describing and gorgeously showing the bravery, tenacity, compassion, and strength of this remarkable girl/woman. I love how the additional note on Kate Moore provides other examples of her trailblazing and compassionate nature. A timeline, author's note, resources, and photographs of Kate and the lighthouse offer a little more insight into the isolated and important life of the amazing Kate Moore. This is a terrific addition to nonfiction collections of tenacious and courageous girls determined to do what is necessary for their community.


Resources:

- using one (or more) of these lighthouse crafts, or your own idea(s), make or draw your own island and lighthouse. What would be on your island?


- imagine you are 12-year-old Kate and write an entry for the lighthouse keeper's log. What did you see, feel, smell, or hear that night? How often did the lamps go out? Did anything go wrong? Did you have to make any rescues?


- pair this with Hello Lighthouse by Sophie Blackall and Kate's Light: Kate Walker at Robbins Reef Lighthouse by Elizabeth Spires, illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully (about another Kate who moved into a very different lighthouse, 66 years after 5-year-old Kate Moore moved into hers).


If you missed the interview with Anna Crowley Redding and Emily Sutton on Monday, find it (here).


This post is part of a series by authors and KidLit bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions see Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Books.

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Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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