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."