Tar Beach


Tar Beach
(New York: Crown Publishers, Inc., 1991)
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“I will always remember
when the stars fell down around me
and lifted me up above
the George Washington Bridge.”

Cassie Louise Lightfoot, eight years old in 1939, has a dream: to be free to go wherever she wants for the rest of her life. One night, up on “tar beach” –the rooftop of her family’s Harlem apartment building–her dream comes true. The stars lift her up, and she flies over the city. She claims the buildings as her own–even the union building, so her father won’t have to worry anymore about not being allowed to join just because his father was not a member. As Cassie learns, anyone can fly. “All you need is somewhere to go you can’t get to any other way. The next thing you know, you’re flying above the stars.”

This magical story resonates with a universal wish. Originally written by Faith Ringgold for her story quilt of the same name, Tar Beach is a seamless weaving of fiction, autobiography, and African-American history and literature. Cover excerpt, Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold, Crown Publishers, New York 1991.


  • 1992 Caldecott Honor Book
  • Winner of the Coretta Scott King Award for Illustration
  • Reading Rainbow Feature Selection
  • A New York Times Best Illustrated Book
  • Parents’ Choice Gold Award