"Tar Beach" is about feelings and role playing. "It's as much about how people are made to feel numb, as the way they allow themselves to feel," Mr. Elman said. The characters are funky people with real juices, and some people do not like to hear about that, Mr. Elman said.
In the era of "Tar Beach," people moved back and forth in a melange of Yiddish, Hebrew and English. The novel adds Swahili, from the language of Paul Robeson recordings, to satirize the possibility of "Eretz Uganda." Eretz is Hebrew for land.
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.
"Tar Beach" is about childhood, and childhood is a study in the physical, a first awareness of the body, Mr. Elman said. It is also a time when children are told many strange things and then left to try and understand them as best they can, he said.
"Tar Beach" is filled with details of sound, smell, taste and texture. It is a glimpse of an era when 20 men sunbathed "like a griddle full of B.L.T.'s, all puffy and brown." Mr. Elman wrote. "I used all five senses and I wish there were some more to use! As a writer, detail is the only god I know."