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Maine writer shares story of 12-year-old girl who became a lighthouse keeper

“I would stand at the water’s edge,” the author said. “And imagine rowing out into the water to save people.”

PORTLAND, Maine — Anna Crowley Redding, who lives in Maine, has written a number of books for children and young adults, and when interviewed for 207, she often has the conversation in a place that fit the subject.

For her book about the tree in Great Britain whose falling apple prompted Isaac Newton to think in a new way about gravity, the interview was held in an orchard. For her book about a food fight over clam chowder, she spoke at a seafood shack next to the ocean. For her book about black holes, 207 was stumped. Unable to transport anyone to outer space, the crew instead had to make do with interviewing on Earth.

Redding’s new book for children, “Courage Like Kate,” tells the true story of Kate Moore, who in 1824—when she was just 12 years old—basically took over from her father the job of tending a lighthouse on the Connecticut shore. When her father died 47 years later, it was big news when Kate was named the official lighthouse keeper, a job almost never given to a woman.

So where to meet to talk about “Courage Like Kate”? In Maine, happily, there is an abundance of choices, and 207 decided to do the interview at Spring Point Lighthouse in South Portland.

That lighthouse and others near her home provided Redding with a bit of inspiration as she pondered what Kate Moore had done in bravely saving the lives of at least 23 sailors in her years on the Connecticut shore. 

“A lot of times during storms when it was safe to do so, I would go stand at the water’s edge [at a lighthouse] and imagine getting out in a rickety rowboat and rowing out into the water to save people,” Redding said.

Watching the storm-tossed waves, Redding’s thoughts would turn to the courage that Kate Moore had shown in carrying out those rescues, courage that is hard to fathom. 

“And I have to tell you, I didn’t feel any of it,” she laughed. “So I just wrote about it.”

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