Ready to Fly: How Sylvia Townsend Became the Bookmobile Ballerina has gotten a lot of attention. First, because this is a good book that covers several subjects. It covers African American history, women’s history and dance. It covers determination and perseverance. It talks about challenges, a family’s love and how you can do anything with the right book.
This is a sweet story about Sylvia Townsend: a determined girl who let nothing stopped her. Lea Lyon and A. LaFaye’s text is upbeat and highlights the life of a black ballerina at a time when it was next to impossible for black girls to be allowed to dance. Unable to afford classes or find one that will take her, Townsend turns to the local bookmobile and through books teaches not only herself, but the kids of the neighborhood as well. If you take away the fact this is based on a true story, it could be set anytime and anywhere. However, it is set in the 1950’s and the style of the times is shown, but still feels familiar and contemporary. Several afterword’s expand on Townsend’s personal and professional history as well as the history of the bookmobile.
Fun illustrations boldly dance throughout. The colors are bright, compliment the story and create a story of their own. Jessica Gibson shows Townsend’s spunk and passion in perfectly detailed illustrations that captures the mood of the moment.
Sylvia Townsend themselves leads off the story with a forward, not only speaking about her life but other reflections as well.