The Definitive Guide to

Ready to Fly: How Sylvia Townsend Became the Bookmobile Ballerina

Written by Lea Lyon and Alexandria LaFaye & illustrated by Jessica Gibson
Published by HarperCollins
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4.83 / 7.0
- Bookroo Rating
Goodreads Rating - 4.4 / 5.0
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Prices as of Sep 27
$18.99
Retail Price
$16.14
Bookshop
$18.99
used $18.99
Amazon
Jan 28, 2020
Publication Date
40
Pages
4-8
Target Age

What Does Bookroo Think of This Book

“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's This Book About

Publisher Summary

An inspiring picture book for little ballerinas everywhere!

Ready to Fly is the true story of Sylvia Townsend, an African American girl who falls in love with ballet after seeing Swan Lake on TV.

Although there aren’t many ballet schools that will accept a girl like Sylvia in the 1950s, her local bookmobile provides another possibility. A librarian helps Sylvia find a book about ballet and the determined seven-year-old, with the help of her new books, starts teaching herself the basics of classical ballet.

Soon Sylvia learns how to fly—how to dance—and how to dare to dream.

Lyrical, easy-to-read, and affecting text paired with bright, appealing illustrations make Ready to Fly perfect for aspiring ballerinas everywhere who are ready to leap and to spread their wings.

Includes a foreword from Sylvia Townsend, a brief history of the bookmobile, an author’s note, and a further reading list.

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

Quotes from This Book

  • “As musical notes start to float, I rise to my toes, ready to fly.”
  • “So I twist Mama’s scarves into a tutu and make my own ballet slippers.”

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?

Trusted Reviews & Ratings

The Book Snob Mom
Mom of boys. Lover of Harry Potter, Jane Austen and believes one can never own too many children's books!
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4.5 / 7.0
The Goodfather
Favorite pastime? Reading with my kids. Just finished Nana Cracks the Case!
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5.0 / 7.0
B is for Bookworm
Book-loving mommy-to-be! Recently enjoyed The Hobbit, Becoming, and The Marvelous Magic of Miss Mabel.
1234567
5.0 / 7.0

Book Lists That Include Ready to Fly: How Sylvia Townsend Became the Bookmobile Ballerina

Book Topics › girls and women
Children's Books About Girls And Women
Book Topics › female role models
Children's Books About Female Role Models
Book Topics › biography
Children's Books About Biography
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Who Wrote Ready to Fly: How Sylvia Townsend Became the Bookmobile Ballerina

author
Lea Lyon

Lea Lyon has illustrated six award-winning picture books, including Say Something and Playing War. Lea is the illustrator coordinator for the SCBWI San Francisco/South region. Ready to Fly is her first published picture book as an author. Visit her at www.lealyon.com.

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author
Alexandria LaFaye

A. LaFaye has published over a dozen books, including the Skipping Stones Honor Book Walking Home to Rosie Lee and Follow Me Down to Nicodemus Town. You can catch up with A. LaFaye at www.alafaye.com or @artlafaye.

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

illustrator
Jessica Gibson

Jessica Gibson is a mostly self-taught freelance illustrator who graduated from Wayne County Community College with an associate of arts degree. Though she primarily illustrates children’s books, Jessica also creates artwork for magazines and has an interest in character design. With a pen and tablet by her side, she loves creating adorable, whimsical, and sometimes quirky illustrations, ready to brighten up everyone’s heart. You can visit her at www.jessicamgibson.com.

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What Has Lea Lyon Said About This Book

Nothing yet! 🤷 You should let Lea know that you want more details about Ready to Fly: How Sylvia Townsend Became the Bookmobile Ballerina!

What Has Alexandria LaFaye Said About This Book

Nothing yet! 🤷 You should let Alexandria know that you want more details about Ready to Fly: How Sylvia Townsend Became the Bookmobile Ballerina! Try tweeting Alexandria on twitter (@artlafaye).

What Has Jessica Gibson Said About This Book

Nothing yet! 🤷 You should let Jessica know that you want more details about Ready to Fly: How Sylvia Townsend Became the Bookmobile Ballerina! Try tweeting Jessica on twitter (@Jessiedrawz) or messaging Jessica on instagram (@jessiedrawz).

Lea Lyon's Book Dedication

For Sylvia, who was kind enough to share her story with me, and for my dear friend Mary Ann, who introduced me to the amazing bookmobile ballerina.

Alexandria LaFaye's Book Dedication

For Regan: Know your own worth, celebrate your gifts, spread your wings, and fly!

Jessica Gibson's Book Dedication

To my loving, supportive family, especially my mother, who always believed in my creative talent.

What Do Critics Say About This Book

  • “She makes her way to the bookmobile, requests ballet books, and trains herself: ‘At home, I begin reading, building my own barre, learning the positions . . .’”

    Read the full review
  • “Sylvia Townsend hears her parents’ music—jazz and symphonies—and she rises “to my toes, ready to fly.” She sees Swan Lake on television and decides she must learn ballet—but her supportive parents can’t pay for lessons.”

    Read the full review

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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.
ASIN/ISBN 10:
0062888781

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