Young author Jackson

The Cloudlanders
The Cloudlanders is a story I wrote at age ten. My previous "books" had been collected bits and pieces; this was a continuous novel, but picaresque--a series of adventures with the same characters. In it, my hero and heroine, with a guide bird named Talka (obviously a talker) get up into the clouds where they discover some are solid, and boast strange countries. When I ran out of what to tell about the situation the kids were in, I'd jump them to the next cloud-country. I was heavily influenced by the Oz books and Alice in Wonderland.

A visiting friend of my parents who edited the a weekly newspaper, saw the story in progress, admired my industry, and started to print it in the Galesburg (Illinois) Post. After a while the printed word caught up to my written copy, and I sweated under a deadline. One week there was a box on the front page, and within it the words, "Jackie Dougan! Authors mustn't let their publishers get ahead of them! Send in the next installment pronto!" It was too much pressure for me; I brought my kids down from the clouds shortly after. But they'd been up there four and a half months, and I was launched as a published author--one, however, who to this day rarely accepts a deadline on an unfinished manuscript.

Click a selection below to read the installments:
Installment 1-2 - Installment 3-5 - Installment 6-8 - Installment 9-11 - Installment 12-14 - Installment 15-17
Installment 18-20 - Installment 21-23 - More about the history of Cloudlanders

The Cloudlanders ©1938/39, Jacqueline Dougan Jackson

Galesburg Post
November 10, 1938

"The Cloudlanders"
By Jacqueline Dougan (aged ten)

    Frenchy whistled gaily as he skipped down the tiled path.
    "Hi, Turkey," he cried, stopping beside a girl of his own age who was picking flowers.
    "Hi, yourself!" laughed Turkey, turning around.
    Turkey's real name was Orania Turquoise, but everyone called her Turkey.
    "Want to sail my boat with me?" asked Frenchy, and plucking a daisy from Turkey's bouquet, he began to pull out the petals. "Gran'pa just finished carving it and I'm going to sail it in the Enchanted Lake."
    "Pooh!" exclaimed Turkey. "Do you still believe in the Enchanted Lake? I've never seen so much as a water snake in it!"
    "Come one!" avoiding a quarrel, Frenchy began to run toward the lake, which was just visible between the trees.
    "Here, let me start it!" said Turkey, taking the small craft from Frenchy's hands, when they arrived, panting, on the beach.
    She set the little boat in the water and twisted the rudder so that the boat would return to them. Almost at once a stiff breeze caught the tiny sails. Tugging at its string, "The Swallow" nosed its way through the choppy waves.
    Suddenly it bumped against a queer-shaped green island, which seemed to be rising out of the center of the lake. It was a monstress head.
    "Who hit me?!!!" it bellowed.

(Continued next week.)

Galesburg Post
November 17, 1938

    "A dragon!" gasped Frenchy, sitting down hard.
    "N-not a dragon!" stuttered Turkey. "D--dragons breathe fire! It's a sea-serpent!"
    The monster was a dark green, and was covered with prickly scales. His eyes were a flashing red, and he had two moss-grown horns on the top of his head.
    "Who thumped me?!!!" he thundered again. "It's only once in a hundred years that I come to the top of the earth, and what do I get?" His gaze fell on the children. "What do I get?" he snarled. "I get thumped on the head by people! Oh, miserable people! Why were they ever born? You!" he raged on. "You thumped me! You shall be punished for this! Do you think that I--," he drew up proudly. "Do you think that I, the only sea-serpent in the world will let people thump me without being punished?" He finished with a roar that made the whole earth tremble.
    "Run!" whispered Frenchy frantically. "He may kill us!"
    But it was too late. The monster was mumbling to himself and making strange passes in the air. Suddenly a huge bubble appeared out of nowhere and encircled the two. Then the bubble with the children inside of it, began to rise, slowly.
    For a moment neither of them knew what to do; then Frenchy began hammering and pounding on the thick glass for all he was worth.
    Finding it was useless and being scared almost out of his wits, he peered down through the glass-like globe.
    "What if it should break?" he thought, with a shudder.
    But after fifteen minutes had gone by and nothing had happened, he began to look about him with interest.
    They were sailing over a fleecy, white cloud, in the shape of an elephant's head.
    A big bird sailed by, and after watching them, curiously, for a few minutes, it asked.
    "Where are you going in that funny looking thing?"
    Turkey gasped. "I never knew birds could talk!" she exclaimed, surprised.
    "Why, of course!" cawed the bird in a shocked voice. "Haven't you ever heard of Talking birds? Why, at our moonlight council last night there were one thousand Talking birds, plus a couple of spies! Say, there were five crows spying on us, but the chief," he said proudly "Got 'em all! He even-"
    Suddenly there was a sharp explosion and Frenchy and Turkey found themselves falling.
    "Any minute now we'll hit the ground!" chattered Turkey between her teeth.

(Continued next week.)