Making another generation of kids fall in love with Lucy

May 18—PLATTSBURGH — "Lucy! How Lucille Ball Did It All!," by Amy Guglielmo and Jacqueline Tourville with illustrations by Brigette Barrager, is a behind-the-scenes glimpse for children about the legendary red-headed comic who shattered glass ceilings in Hollywood.

"This is the third book that I've created with Jacqueline Tourville," Guglielmo said.

"We did Pocket Full of Colors together and How To Build a Hug, the Temple Grandin book. We just are always looking for trailblazing women that we think kids should know about, and kids are naturally funny. Lucy celebrates putting on shows with your friends and using your imagination. She's such a classic story of determination and never giving up. She didn't have an easy path to success, and when she made it to the top, she really helped bring other people along."

Born in Jamestown, N.Y., Lucille Désirée Ball (August 6, 1911 — April 26, 1989) was the firstborn and only daughter of Henry Durrell "Had" Ball, a lineman for Bell Telephone, and Désirée Evelyn "DeDe" (née Hunt) Ball. A younger brother, Fred was born after their father died from typhoid in 1927 when she was 3. At the time, the family lived in Wyandotte, Michigan.

"Jacqueline thinks Lucy is for everyone," Guglielmo said.

"If kids watch I Love Lucy right now, they would think it's hysterical because it's very physical.

"Also, we wanted to feature a New York state woman. We hadn't done anyone from New York state, and we really wanted to celebrate someone from New York. She's from Jamestown, which is western New York and that was really important to us to recognize a New York state woman artist."

Guglielmo and Tourville, friends since their Plattsburgh City School District days, did a lot of research, and most of their inspiration came from watching "I Love Lucy" reruns.

"Listening to her biography and hearing her tell her story was fascinating," Guglielmo said.

"Her dad died when she was little, and she went to live with some very serious relatives where she wasn't allowed to be herself and be funny. Her challenge to make them laugh and to make other people laugh and to celebrate laughter really drove her. So, listening to her story and all the things that she overcame, the people that said no to her and told her that she didn't have talent was really fascinating."

The authors sent text back and forth as they worked on the 48-page book.

"It was so nice that we paired up with the illustrator from Pocket Full of Colors," Guglielmo said.

"I think it's a great team. We work so well together. It was nice to be able to play around. We struggled a little bit. We made a text that was rhyming. It was really fun, but it wasn't quite right. We were very happy to finally get it right. We worked really hard on it. I think it really tells her story in a fun way, but also she is an important person for other reasons and I think that it's important for us to make sure kids know.

"Lucy is the reason we have Star Trek. Nobody wanted Star Trek, and she ran her own television studio and she made Star Trek happen."

Her husband, Desi Arnaz was Cuban, and he was the first Latino to star in an American television show making Ball the first actress to have an interracial marriage and the first visibly pregnant woman on TV when she was pregnant with their son, Desi Arnaz, Jr.

They created their own studio, Desilu Productions, which made her the first woman to own a television studio.

"She loved Star Trek, and she really wanted it to happen, so she was the producer for that," Guglielmo said.

"There was a diverse cast on Star Trek, and Star Trek is the reason why we have female astronauts. Because there's a wonderful actress on Star Trek who NASA hired to recruit women and minorities into space. So, Lucy helps get women into space. I just love that she wasn't just a funny lady. She was so much more."

"LUCY! How Lucille Ball Did it All!" is available for $19.99 online and at Bookstore Plus in Lake Placid. Upcoming events include The Bookstore Plus for a Lucy story time in Lake Placid on July 22 and the Adirondack Family Book Festival at John Brown Farm State Historic Site in Lake Placid on Aug 17.

"Jacqueline and I will sign bookplates," she said.

"If anybody buys them, we can send them a signed bookplate."