Tar Beach

Tar Beach

4.0 18
by Faith Ringgold, Faith Riggold

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Illus. in full color. "Ringgold recounts the dream adventure of eight-year-old Cassie Louise Lightfoot, who flies above her apartment-building rooftop, the 'tar beach' of the title, looking down on 1939 Harlem. Part autobiographical, part fictional, this allegorical tale sparkles with symbolic and historical references central to African-American culture. The…  See more details below


Illus. in full color. "Ringgold recounts the dream adventure of eight-year-old Cassie Louise Lightfoot, who flies above her apartment-building rooftop, the 'tar beach' of the title, looking down on 1939 Harlem. Part autobiographical, part fictional, this allegorical tale sparkles with symbolic and historical references central to African-American culture. The spectacular artwork resonates with color and texture. Children will delight in the universal dream of mastering one's world by flying over it. A practical and stunningly beautiful book."—(starred) Horn Book.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A girl uses her imagination to soar from the "tar beach" roof of her family's Harlem home. "Ringgold's strong figures and flattened perspective bring a distinctive magic to this dreamy and yet wonderfully concrete vision," said PW. All ages. (Jan.)
School Library Journal
Gr 1 Up--Tar Beach is a work of modern art translated into a children's picture book, and the adaptation is so natural that it seems inevitable. From her 1988 story quilt, reproduced on the cover and within the last pages of the book, Ringgold has taken both the setting and the text. The painted scene in the center of the quilt shows a Harlem rooftop on a starry night with four adults playing cards and with Cassie Louise Lightfoot and her brother, Be Be, lying on a blanket gazing at the sky. Cassie sees herself flying over the city lights; dreams of wearing the George Washington Bridge as a necklace; imagines giving her father the union building he is not allowed to join because of his half-black, half-Indian heritage; flies over the ice cream factory; and takes her little brother with her to the sky. Cassie's story, written along the borders of the quilt in tiny script, becomes the text of the book. The illustrations painted for the book version are done in the same colorful, naive style as the quilt. This type of art translates beautifully into the storybook format, and a border of bright fabric designs on the bottom of each page duplicates the material used in the quilt. In capturing the euphoria of a child's dreams, and in its gentle reminder of the social injustices of the adult world, the book is both universal and contemporary. --Shirley Wilton, Ocean County College, Toms River, NJ

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
8.66(w) x 9.26(h) x 0.09(d)
AD790L (what's this?)
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

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Tar Beach 4 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 18 reviews.
Anonymous 4 months ago
amanda_12 More than 1 year ago
The Book Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold had very bright and bold colors that caught the reader's attention. This book has the Caldecott Honor award and I can see why. The pictures are very detailed and tell the story for us without even reading it, which is the whole idea of picture books for kids. The grade levels I would read this book to would be third grade or even second, although I probably would substitute some of the words to make it more age appropriate. I would recommend this book to people I know. Overall, the book was very good and sent a good message.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
daanielle More than 1 year ago
When i checked this book out in the library to read the librarian told me, "This book is a powerful one". She is right! It is truly beautiful to me how inspirational this girl's spirit is in this picture book. My favorite about the book was the illustrations. I felt like if i touched the page i could smear the them, they looked so fresh. I especially liked how she called the top of the roof her tar beach, and how she would lie up there and just dream about flying. She believed so hard in herself that in the end of the book she really did fly. This book is great for children to see the power in reaching within themselves to find motivation to accomplish any of life's goals whether it is to fly or to become great at the job of their dreams.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Caldecott, Dreams can make you ¿fly¿! This book is about a young African-American girl living in Harlem in the 1930s who dreams she is flying over the city when relaxing on the roof of her apartment building. It is a beautiful book about dreams and children should enjoy it. Faith Ringgold is married to Burdette Ringgold and has two daughters. She is a professor of art at the University of California in San Diego, California. Bibliography, Ringgold, Faith. Tar Beach. New York: Crown Publishers, 1991.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Caldecott: Tar Beach, is a very touching book. When the girl was talking about how poor they were it made me feel sorry for her and her family. But, it was also sweet when she decided she was going to give her dad a building, sp her mom would not cry about him not having a job. It was amazing how hopeful the girl was. Faith Ringgold (born October 8, 1930) is an American artist and author. As an feminist activist, she helped influence museums to include women's art in their exhibits. Her American People series of paintings dealt with politics affecting African Americans and women in the United States. Her most famous book is a children's title, Tar Beach. Ringgold was raised in Harlem and educated at the City College of New York, where she studied with Robert Gwathmey and Yasuo Kuniyoshi. She was greatly influenced by the fabric she worked with at home with her mother who was a seamstress and has used fabric in many of her artworks. She currently serves on the art faculty at the University of California, San Diego.. The book, Tar Beach, is about a girl and her family. They have dinner sometimes at ¿Tar Beach¿. What she is actually referring to is the roof on top of her apartment building where she lives. She says she is flying over buildings and bridges while she is up there. She considers the beach a very magical place. She even decides that when she flies over things she owns them. So, she gives her dad a building, so they will not be poor anymore and her mom will not cry. The story ends with another dinner at Tar Beach. ¿I will always remember when the stars fell down around me and lifted me up above the George Washington Bridge¿. This is the part of the story where the girl first takes off flying in the beginning of the book. Ringgold, Faith. Tar Beach. New York: Crown Publishers, Inc., 1991. Grade Level: 3rd
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a great book that can give students an idea of how a young african american girl felt when her family was disscrimated against. I also what to make a comment about the mom who had the book removed from the school library. We all go to parties, even family parties where there is beer. It is part of our culture and history. We do our children a great disservice when we present a view of the world and even history that is not true and accurate. This doesn't mean that we have to tell our children that it is okay for them to go out and get drunk. We present the information to them with a lesson and explaination and with our our values and morals. Our world and its history is not prefect and some of it is down right ugly. This book present some of that ugliness in a great book for young students.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The little girl wants to fly in the air over the city. She dreams she is in the air with her good imagination. Her family doesn't have much money. In the end she and her brother go flying in the sky. You can go any where in a dream. I liked it because it had good pictures.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book inspired my daughter to dream, this and A Chair for My Mother were her favorites. I am buying her a new copy for the holidays as we lent this book out and it was never returned.We both enjoyed reading this book repeatedly. It's a wonderful book and the art work still etched in my mind 8 years later. My daughter is now sixteen and will truly appreciate a new copy of this beautiful book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Don't let the person who says she had this book pulled because it mentioned 'beer' influence your decision! This is censorship!The prose in this book has a simple poetic style that makes a young girls daydreams come to life and the illustrations are beautiful. This book provides an enchanting look into the hopes and dreams of a young African-American girl's .
Guest More than 1 year ago
In Faith Ringgold¿s Tar Beach, eight-year-old Cassie Louise Lightfoot expresses her wishes and dreams. The story takes place in 1939 on the tarred flat roof of her family¿s Harlem apartment building where her family and friends gather in the warm summer night air. While Cassie enjoys and appreciates her family, her boundless imagination transcends debilitating socioeconomic boundaries and allows her to feel self-confident and capable of anything. Through both the inspirational text and illustrations, Ringgold urges that life¿s circumstances, no matter how hurtful, should not be taken at face value. Instead, one¿s attitude can overcome and triumph over anything. Ringgold¿s depiction of an African American female greatly furthers the effectiveness of Tar Beach. Cassie is a strong young lady who will not rely on a prejudiced society to determine her future. Rather, she constantly creates her own ambitions, regardless of how radical or impractical they may seem. For instance, Cassie dreams of her father being rich, having a more respected job, and even owning The Union Building. The character of Cassie encourages limitless dreams, especially for young African American readers. Cassie¿s model attitude is conveyed through her imagery-rich narrative that faces adversity head on. Her father is a blue-collar construction worker who must search for jobs in the winter. Society also excludes him from the privileges of union membership because he is ¿colored¿ and considered a ¿half-breed Indian.¿ In addition, Cassie¿s family doesn¿t have much money. Yet despite all this, Cassie says she feels ¿rich¿ from ¿lying on the roof in the night, with stars and skyscraper buildings all around [her].¿ She appreciates the surrounding beauty and fancifully talks of flying to those places she admires. She talks about the imaginative flights she takes, leaving the roof much like Peter Pan. This creative way that Cassie addresses her situations adds an unparalleled beauty to her life. For instance, she talks of flying over the George Washington Bridge and wearing it ¿like a giant diamond necklace.¿ Ringgold uses Cassie¿s narrative to inspire by first explaining the potential beauty that can be experienced, and then explaining, ¿it¿s very easy, anyone can fly. All you need is somewhere to go that you can¿t get to any other way.¿ To compliment the text, Ringgold created amazing illustrations using acrylic on canvas paper, which were designed to resemble a quilt. The creative and colorful illustrations further this idea of overcoming life¿s obstacles by beautifully depicting Cassie¿s flights over her home, surrounding skyscrapers, and the beloved bridge. Ringgold also uses a two-dimensional style to depict Cassie when she is flying. This adds a visual separation between real-life images and Cassie¿s surreal fantasies. Overall, the illustrations are bright and include many patterns and geometric shapes. These intricacies communicate the cheerful complexity of life. By transcending reality, Cassie is able to rise above her problems and feel triumphant and empowered. Tar Beach is an appealing and creative work which offers hope and encourages the continual search for beauty and self-empowerment.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was wonderful. Faith Ringgold does a great job with telling the story of this little girl. I think that this tells children that it is okay to daydream for their parents to have a better life or just to dream.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was really great. I think that it gives children a chance to use their imagination. It shows that daydreaming is not all that bad and that every child does it. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was inspirational to my 9-year-old. He too shares Cassie's dream to fly. This is a book of hope and dreams and reminds us of the limitless ability of the imagination to empower children.
Guest More than 1 year ago
My 7 year old checked this book out of the library at his school. I was very upset when I discovered that it talked about a neighbor bringing beer to a party. I can not believe an author would write this, much less a publishing company promote it. At the age of 7 a child should not be subjected to reading about alcohol and given the impression that drinking is OK. I made sure that it was removed from the school's library!!