Kid Lit Review of “Kate’s Light: Kate Walker at Robbins Reef Lighthouse” by Elizabeth Spires

This is the true story of Kate Görtler Kaird, who, after the death of her first husband, moved with her young son Jacob to New Jersey from Germany in 1882. In 1885 she married John Walker, who became the lighthouse keeper at Robbins Reef, located in New York Bay between Manhattan and Staten Island.

Kate and John enlarged their family with a daughter, Mae. But a few years later John died and Kate was left with two young children to support. She convinced the Lighthouse Board to keep her on as Lightkeeper, and she was able to hire her son Jacob, then grown, as Assistant Keeper. By the time Kate retired at age 71, she had lived at Robbins Reef for thirty-three years and rescued more than fifty people.

Back matter includes more about Kate as well as a guide to additional sources.

Lovely watercolors by Emily Arnold McCully ably depict the difficult and sometimes harrowing circumstances of Kate’s time as Lightkeeper. McCully brings to life the storms at sea as well as what Kate did to maintain safety and rescue capsized sailors in those moments.

Evaluation: This interesting book for readers aged 6 and up leaves no doubt about the bravery and perseverance of its heroine, who overcame adversity repeatedly to live the best life she could with the cards she was dealt.

The US National Park Service has an online history lesson for middle school learners about Kate Walker and the importance of lighthouses, here.

Rating: 4/5

Published by Holiday House, 2021

Kate Walker, c. 1909. Courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard Historian’s Office.

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1 Response to Kid Lit Review of “Kate’s Light: Kate Walker at Robbins Reef Lighthouse” by Elizabeth Spires

  1. cindy knoke says:

    How fascinating!

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