Title: Tar Beach
Author: Faith Ringgold
Genre: African American / Racism / Family
Year Published: 1991
Year Read: 2010
Publisher: Crown Publishers
Content Rating: Ages 4+ (Themes of Racism)
I have actually seen this book on an episode of “Reading Rainbow” and I thought that this book was great! “Tar Beach” is a Caldecott Honor Book and Coretta Scott King Honor Book by Faith Ringgold that is about a young girl named Cassie Louise Lightfoot who tells the audience about how she flies in the sky over the city and relates her tale to the audience. “Tar Beach” is certainly a memorable book that children will love to read!
After reading this book, I started taking an interest in the art of creating stories through quilts! Faith Ringgold has done an excellent job at both illustrating and writing this story about the life of an African-American girl during the 1930s. What really made this book stand out was the fact that it was based off of Faith Ringgold's story quilt that details the life of African-American women in America and I really loved the idea about this story coming from a story quilt, which is a quilt that tells the story of a person's life, since it made the story more creative and memorable to read about. Also, this book helped me learn more about black history, especially seeing how African-Americans and Native-Americans were treated during the construction of the Union building during the 1930s and it is interesting to see how far we have came from those times. Faith Ringgold's illustrations are truly creative and gorgeous, especially when she uses watercolor painting to illustrate the characters and the cities. The images that truly stood out for me were the images of Cassie flying over the George Washington Bridge and her apartment where her family lives on as it is simply breathtaking. I also loved the way that Faith Ringgold pasted pieces of her quilt on the bottom of the pages since it brings true creativity to the story and made the story even more heartwarming to read.
The only reason why I gave this book a four star rating is because even though I gave this book so much praise, the story seems to go through the events a bit too fast and there does not seem to be enough information about the characters themselves and the events that surrounded them, especially regarding the Union building since I wanted to learn more about the situation at the Union building during the 1930s.
Overall, “Tar Beach” is a great book for children who want to see stories through the eyes of a quilt and learn more about black history. I would recommend this book to children ages four and up since the format is easy for younger children to understand.
* 1992 Caldecott Honor
* 1992 Coretta Scott King Award for Illustrator
* 1993 Ezra Jack Keats Book Award for New Writer