Emmy Award-winning actor Julianna Margulies (E.R.; The Good Wife) will step into the publishing limelight in May 2016, when Random House Children’s Books publishes her debut picture book, Three Magic Balloons. Editorial director Maria Modugno acquired and edited the book, based on a story that Margulies’s father, Paul Margulies, originally wrote for his three young daughters.
Three Magic Balloons centers on a trio of sisters whose father every week takes them to the zoo, where a vendor rewards their kindness to the animals by giving them balloons that carry them off on a magical, nighttime adventure. Margulies and her sisters discovered the manuscript while going through their father’s papers after his death last October. Paul Margulies was an advertising executive who also wrote essays and plays, as well as stories for children. “My father had published two children's books, Gold Steps, Stone Steps and What Julianna Could See,” said Margulies. “As children, my sisters and I loved all his stories, and there were many. We collectively decided that Three Magic Balloons was worth sending out to publishers—if we could find the right illustrator.”
She shared the story with Grant Shaffer, an artist and illustrator whose work has appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times, Interview, and other publications. “Aside from being a brilliant illustrator, Grant is also a dear friend,” Margulies explained. “He immediately drew some pictures, and within a very short time, Random House said they would publish it.”
When Modugno received the book proposal from Margulies’s agent, Jennifer Rudolph Walsh at WME, she said she was very impressed with both the text and illustrations. “One of the things that attracted me to the story is that it fits so well with Julianna’s personality,” she observed. “The story is not a bit snarky or trendy—it is enchanting and timeless. And it arrived with Grant’s amazing, gorgeous sketches. I knew immediately that I had to sign it up.” Since Three Magic Balloons was written as a short story, Margulies and Modugno worked together to turn it into a picture book. “Julianna is a really smart and talented person—and very easy to work with,” Modugno said.
Margulies is pleased that her father’s story will finally be shared with others. “My sisters and I are so grateful to Random House and Grant Shaffer for feeling the same way we do about this very special story,” she noted. “My father always used to say to us, ‘Magic is everywhere, you just need to know where to look!’ We think children will feel the same way after reading Three Magic Balloons.”