Ready to Fly: How Sylvia Townsend Became the Bookmobile Ballerina
Ready to Fly: How Sylvia Townsend Became the Bookmobile Ballerina
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Ready to Fly: How Sylvia Townsend Became the Bookmobile Ballerina

Written by Lea Lyon and Alexandria LaFaye & illustrated by Jessica Gibson
Published by HarperCollins
Prices as of Jun 18

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An inspiring biography of Sylvia Townsend, who learned ballet in books borrowed from a bookmobile.

Exciting, tender, heartbreaking, and inspiring moments are on the program for readers of this picture book biography of Sylvia Townsend. When her mom’s symphonies and her dad’s jazz play, young Sylvia can’t keep her feet from dancing along with the beat. When she learns ballet lessons are too expensive for her financially strapped family, she resourcefully creates her own tutu and ballet slippers from household materials. Even more remarkable, she teaches herself ballet from books made available to her by the caring librarian of a bookmobile that coincidentally arrives in town the same spring. She constructs her own barre and studies the pages of books to learn positions and steps. When a thoughtful school teacher offers to pay for her lessons, Sylvia is emotionally crushed to learn that some consider ballet only for white people. “Those words pluck the feathers from my wings.” However, when she realizes her friends still need help, she becomes their teacher. Her kindness leads to her being discovered by Russian ballet instructor Alexandra Sawicka, who, after watching her dance and knowing she has never had a lesson, remarks, “Well, you’re a beautiful dancer.” Sylvia is invited to attend Mme. Sawicka’s ballet school, propelling her along her remarkable path to becoming both a ballerina and in turn a ballet instructor. Lyon and LaFaye craft a biography excellent for a picture book: it is engaging and easy to read while still being informative. Gibson’s digital illustrations have a youthful feel and a sense of motion that excellently fit the history.

What Kind of Book is Ready to Fly: How Sylvia Townsend Became the Bookmobile Ballerina

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What Questions Should I Ask My Child

  • When Sylvia's family cannot afford dance lessons, she starts to teach herself ballet from borrowed books. In what ways can you follow her inspiring example?
  • Sylvia is nervous at her dance audition, but she dances anyway and earns the praise of her teacher. How can you bravely move forward toward a goal, even when you feel nervous or scared about it?

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Book Details

ISBN
9780062888785
Publication Date
January 28, 2020
Illustration Details
The artist used Photoshop CC and a Wacom Cintiq drawing tablet to create the digital illustrations for this book.
Reading Age
4 - 8 years
ASIN/ISBN 10
0062888781

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Core Score - 51%

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