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True Story Blog

True Story: Lucy! How Lucille Ball Did It All

As a red-headed kid, I felt a special bond with the legendary TV star Lucille Ball. Now an adult living in Westport, CT (the setting for the last season of "I Love Lucy"), I often drive by the Minute Man statue that Lucy accidentally smashed with her car in the episode The Ricardos Dedicate a Statue. So I was thrilled to read LUCY! HOW LUCILLE BALL DID IT ALL! by Amy Guglielmo and Jacqueline Tourville and illustrated by Brigette Barrager.


A natural performer and jokester, Lucy grew up poor after her father passed away. But that didn't stop her from trying to make other people happy. Lucy set out on her quest to entertain the world even though she was told "You can't dance. You can't sing. You can't act." Lucy's confidence and sense of humor served her well, from radio shows to the theater, from movies to a new form of entertainment—television. Her show "I Love Lucy" was an instant success. Through her work, Lucy revolutionalized TV, became the first woman to run a television studio, and always got the last laugh as the beloved queen of comedy.


Today Amy and Jacqueline talk to us about creating the picture-book biography of trailblazer Lucille Ball.


What sparked your interest in Lucille Ball?
JT: I have so many fond memories of watching I LOVE LUCY in my Nana's frontroom. I loved learning about the story of Lucy's life. 

AG: I have always loved Lucille Ball and I LOVE LUCY from watching the show with my family. Her comedy is timeless and we wanted to make sure kids learned about this funny, fabulous lady. 


Was there one aspect of Lucy's life—a specific scene, quote, or image—that guided you throughout the writing process?
JT: From a young age, Lucy wanted to make people laugh. That guided her life.

AG: Her quote, "I love hearing people laugh," guided this book. Lucy was always willing to take a pie to the face and do silly things to get a chuckle. She was serious about comedy.


While researching this book, which fact surprised you the most?
AG: Lucy was a pioneer in numerous ways. She was the first visibly pregnant woman on television, the first woman to run a major television studio, and she is the reason we have Star Trek! According to NASA, the diverse and inclusive cast of Star Trek inspired generations of people of color and women to apply to be astronauts. Lucy influenced so many people to reach for the stars! 

JT: Lucy had lilac bushes planted around her California homes because it reminded her so much of growing up in Jamestown where a giant lilac bush was outside her bedroom window. It's my favorite flower/scent too! 


Why do you think kids can relate to Lucy!?
AG: Kids are naturally funny. Kids love laughter. Lucy celebrates things like putting on shows with your friends and using your imagination. Lucy's rise to fame is a classic story of determination and a reminder to do your best and never give up on your aspirations.

JT: Lucy's physical humor really appeals to kids – and adults too! 


Which sources were invaluable to writing this biography?

JT: Lucy's own memoir. You can hear her voice so clearly and her stories are still laugh-out-loud funny and poignant. And watching I Love Lucy!! 

AG: Watching hours of I Love Lucy was the best research ever! 


How did you select the timeframe for your book? 
JT: There is such a clear connection between Lucy's childhood and wanting people to laugh and where she ended up making it big by making people laugh. She overcame so many hurdles to reach her goals!  


What's your #1 tip for writing true stories?
JT: Finding a shared connection with your subject. We love to laugh too! This is a way to begin to understand Lucy. 

AG: We do a lot of research and search for the fun facts and special moments in the lives of our subjects that will make their story come to life! 


If you could pick the ideal place for a Lucy! storywalk, where would it be?
JT: Jamestown! This is the town in New York where Lucy grew up. It's on the shores of Lake Chautauqua. 

AG: Also Hollywood! It would be a great tribute to have Lucy's trailblazing story placed in the town where she ventured to realize her dreams. 


What other books would you recommend to readers who love Lucy!?
For kids who love Lucy and funny people, there are Little Golden Books about Lucille Ball, Betty White, and Carol Burnett. For kids who love to laugh, we love If You Laugh I'm Starting This Book Over by Chris Harris, with illustrations by Serge Bloch and The Book That Almost Rhymed by Omar Abed, with illustrations by Hatem Aly, and anything by Ame Dyckman!



I recommend this bright and bubbly (just like Lucy) biography on two shelves in my TrueStory Bookshop:

  • True Stories~Stage & Screen
  • True Stories~Women's History

To take a peek inside the book, checkout my Booktok.


Every day is a good day for a true story but here are some special tie-in dates for Lucy!:

What are some important dates that tie-in with this book? (Birthday, anniversary of events, etc.)

Amy Guglielmo has written over 20 books about trailblazing women and artsy, innovative people. She is an educator, artist, and community arts and STEAM advocate. Amy lives with her husband in Mexico and New York. Jacqueline Tourville's experience working with children with autism as a public school teacher opened her eyes to the importance of inclusive stories for kids.

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