Ready to Fly: How Sylvia Townsend Became the Bookmobile Ballerina (Hardcover)

Ready to Fly: How Sylvia Townsend Became the Bookmobile Ballerina By Lea Lyon, Jessica Gibson (Illustrator), Alexandria LaFaye Cover Image
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Lyrical, inspiring, 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!

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. This nonfiction picture book is an excellent choice to share at home or in the classroom. 

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.

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

About the Author

Lea Lyon always wanted to create children’s books when she was a little girl. Now, after several other careers, Lyon is living out her dream. Ready to Fly is the first children’s book she’s written. She has illustrated six award-winning picture books, including Say Something by Peggy Moss and Keep Your Ear on the Ball by Genevieve Petrillo. Her book Lailah’s Lunchbox by Reem Faruqi was named an ALA Notable Book. You can visit her at

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, Gibson 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

A. LaFaye is the author of over a dozen books, including the Skipping Stones Honor Book Walking Home to Rosie Lee about the reunification of African American families after the Civil War. Her other picture books include Follow Me Down to Nicodemus Town and No Frogs in School. LaFaye, like Sylvia Townsend, always had dreams of flying, but she chose words to feather her wings and became an author. You can catch up with A. LaFaye at

Praise For…

“A lovely, uplifting story” — Joann Ferrara, Executive Director/Founder, Dancing Dreams

Ready to Fly is sooo sweet, sooo wonderful and sooo inspirational. This story will no doubt show little ones everywhere that you can find a dream in the library.” — Floyd Cooper, Coretta Scott King Award–winning author-illustrator

“Readers are leaders, and Sylvia’s story proves just this....I love it! Not only is Ready to Fly full of adorable illustrations but [I] thoroughly enjoyed reading about the history of bookmobiles and Sylvia Townsend’s connection between books and ballet in the 1950s.”    — TaKiyah Wallace, Founder & Executive Director, Brown Girls Do, Inc.

“Lyon and LaFaye have co-authored a standout text that centers action in this triumphant story....Gibson’s full-color illustrations use patterns, textures, and expressive facial features to show a loving family, a vibrant community, and a talented girl who becomes an accomplished woman....Engaging and inspiring, this brief introduction is also fun to read.” — Kirkus Reviews

"Rhythmic prose, with active verbs like jive, sway, soar, and float, convey movement and draw readers into Townsend’s purposeful but joyful practice sessions....Gibson’s illustrations of Townsend’s early family life and dance practices express hope, wonder, and disappointment. A tale of ambition and perseverance. A satisfying addition to nonfiction collections for younger readers." — School Library Journal

"Townsend’s determined spirit shines through the engaging first-person narration, and Gibson’s cartoon illustrations capture endearing scenes..." — Publishers Weekly

Product Details
ISBN: 9780062888785
ISBN-10: 0062888781
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: January 28th, 2020
Pages: 40
Language: English