Eleanora Tate

(b. 1948)

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Bluest Eye


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(b. 1948), author of children's and young adult literature, poet, short fiction writer, journalist, storyteller, and media consultant.

A former journalist in Iowa and Tennessee, a former president of the National Association of Black Storytellers, and a poet, Eleanora Tate has been most successful as a writer of children's and young adult literature. The film version of her first book, Just an Overnight Guest (1980), was aired as a part of PBS's Wonderworks series. The Secret of Gumbo Grove (1987) is not only a mystery but a story with a strong message about the importance of history and heritage. Thank You, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.! (1990) chronicles young Raisin Stackhouse's journey toward self-appreciation. Retold African Myths (1993), illustrated by Tate's nephew, Don Tate, demonstrates her storytelling prowess. The same is true of Front Porch Stories at the One-Room School (1992) in which a father tells his daughter and niece the stories of his youth in their community.

The value of education is a recurring theme in Tate's work. The novel's front porch is modeled upon the Lincoln One-Room School in Canton, Ohio, that Tate attended as a girl. (She is a graduate of Roosevelt High School and Drake University, both in Des Moines, Iowa.) More important, the father is a central figure in this book, as is also the case in A Blessing in Disguise (1995). Tate believes that the need for “father-daughter love” among blacks often goes unrecognized, but that it is connected to black girls' self-image and self-esteem. She is one of the first young people's writers to address openly the issue of self-esteem in the context of skin color and African heritage, accomplishing what Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye does in adult literature.

“Tate, Eleanora E(laine),” in Something about the Author, vol. 38, ed. Anne Commire, 1985, pp. 199–201.

Dianne Johnson-Feelings

Subjects: Literature.

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