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 24, 1938

    Frenchy closed his eyes and clenched his fists, expecting any moment to be his last. But instead of hitting hard ground, as he had expected, he felt something soft; something he had never felt before. He rubbed his eyes and sat up. A few feet away sat Turkey in the same bewildered fashion.
    Jumping to his feet, Frenchy tried to run over to Turkey. At every step he bounced three or four feet in the air.
    "Why, it's rubber!" he exclaimed in delight.
    "No," replied the talking bird, who had just recovered from the shock. "It's clubber! That's what clouds are made of."
    "Oh, are we on a cloud?" asked Turkey, smoothing out her skirt.
    "Most certainly. You are now trespassing on the royal domains of King Mist III. Ruler of Cloudland." Answered Talka, (The bird's name was Talka Tiv) promptly.
    "Look, here come the Cloudmen now! I'm sure they'll like you;" he added, noting the children's frightened looks "The king loves visitors."
    The Cloudlanders had now formed a circle around the children and a tall cloud-man stepped clumsily forward.
    "Welcome strangers!" he said in voice that sounded like the patter of rain drops. "Welcome to Cloudland."
    "Say something!" whispered Talka hoarsly. "Say something about the weather or scenery or sum'pin! You're the 'He-Man' of this party!"
    "I don't know what to say!" whispered Frenchy, but turning to the speaker commanded in a l
    loud voice, "Take us to your king."
    The Cloudman turned around and began talking to a man behind him.
    The crowd slowly moved away and only a few curious children remained.
    "This man will show you the way." said the Cloudman finally.
    A short, fat little gentleman with a jolly smile bounced over to them, and taking Turkey's hand, started walking toward a palace which was shining brightly against the blue sky.
    Cloudland was a large, white cloud, dotted with the little dwellings of the cloudlanders. Turkey noted it with interest. But the shape of the land was always changing. First it would be long and lean and then it would flatten out. But the funny thing about it was that the inside never moved.

(Continued next week.)


Galesburg Post
December 1 , 1938

    The first mile into the country from the edge of the cloud moved around and twisted itself into many queer shapes, but the rest remained exactly the same. Otherwise the palace might just drift away and never be seen again.
    Also, the land was a rainbow of colors. At morning it was pink, with long blue shadows. At noon it was a creamy white, and at evening was a dark, deep, blue.
    "Do you like ice cream?" asked their host, nudging Turkey.
    "I love it!" replied Turkey, smacking her lips. "Especially strawberry and vanilla."
    "Then you'll get along famously with the king. The chief product of cloudland is ice-cream," he went on. "We have ice-cream cones, sherbets, sodas, black-cows, root-beer, pop, lemonade, ice-cream bars, and a lot of other things I can't remember. Want an ice-cream bar?" he asked knocking on the door of a small cottage.
    "Sure!" cried Frenchy, pleased with the idea, for he was very hungry. "But is all you eat ice cream?"
    "Oh, we have star salads and sun soups occasionally, but chiefly it's ice cream and root-beer."
    "I love root beer!" cawed Talka, and added quite rudely, "Can I have some?"
    "Of course, of course!" said the man, whose name was Puffy, as a nice looking cloudwoman came to the door. "Three ice-cream bars and a root-beer," he ordered.
    They followed the woman into the kitchen. All along the wall were ice-cream freezers, with soda fountains above them, each with a different lable. On a table near the door was a class case filled with cones. Beside the case was a metal box. To this the lady went. Opening it she brought out three ice cream bars and handed them politely to Turkey, Frenchy and Puffy. She then filled a glass with root beer and gave it to Talka, who, judging from the vigorous noise coming from his direction, was enjoying it immensely.
    Then Puffy took a small flask out of his pocket and poured four drops of water into a similar flask, which the woman held out.
    "Water is our money," he explained, when they were outside. "We have to dig far down into the clubber to get it, just like you have to dig wells. Water which comes down in rain, from clouds above our own, we use in making our drinks."
    "Doesn't any one ever use the wrong water, like dishonest people and thieves?" asked Frenchy.
    "There are no dishonest people or thieves in Cloudland!" declared Puffy, indignantly.
    "Oh!" said Talka, understandingly. "And that is that!"
    While they had been talking, they had been moving, and now they stood a stone's throw from the palace gates.

(Continued next week.)

Galesburg Post
December 8, 1938

Chapter II. King Mist
    Walking up to the gates, Puffy pulled back the huge brass knocker, with some difficulty. The gates were immediately thrown open and the little party stepped into a small room built into the wall.
    "Hullo, Whippy!" said Puffy to a sad looking cloudman who was seated at a tiny table.
    "Hello," said Whippy and then to the children and Talka, who were still standing uncertainly in the doorway. "Enter and state your business."
    "Visitors for the king." said Puffy, speaking for them.
    Taking a stiff card from a drawer in the wall, the gate keeper handed it to Puffy. Then selecting a large key from the ring around this neck, he unlocked the door which led into the courtyard.
    A tall guard bowed stiffly as the children gazed in awe upon the most beautiful garden they had ever seen. Little white pebbled paths wound in and around the bright flower beds, and a crystal fountain set in the exact center of the garden, where all the paths met, sent silvery sprays into the air. There were several beds of marquerites, and a whole terrace of wall-flowers and lavender. Rose and grape vines clung to the steep grey wall, which surrounded the court yard.
    Opposit the entrance was a large arched gateway leading into the orchard. There was every sort of fruit imaginable. There were peaches, pears, plums, oranges, lemons, apples, cherrys, grapes, and so many other kinds of fruit that they made Turkey's head go round in circles.
    "Is that the palace?" asked Frenchy, pointing to the gleaming turrets shining high above the trees.
    "Yes" said Puffy proudly. "And I'm the treasurer! I take care of the king's money."
    "We will have to register this card." Puffy explained, flapping the piece of paper Whippy had given him, when, at last, they stepped into the wide hall. If the king's 'left-hand man' thinks your business is worth while enough he'll let you see the king. If he doesn't - Well, that just your tough luck. Here is the king's room," he went on, stopping before a huge golden door. "And that," pointing to a man whose feet were resting on his desk, his head thrown back, and snoring loudly, "Is the kings lazy 'left-hand man.' Kick him, Frenchy - It won't hurt him. Wake him up!"
    Frenchy smiled to himself. One could tell that Puffy and the kings left hand man were enemys.
    "Go on in," said the 'snorer' sleepily when Frenchy had tapped him on the shoulder. "Leave your card on the desk. If I don't like your business when I awake, I'll call you." And he promptly fell asleep again.
    "That was easy!" chuckled Turkey, and turning the golden door nob, stepped into the throne room. Frenchy quickly followed her, and Puffy brought up the rear.
    The king was round and fat. He was sitting high above his throne on four velvet sofa cussions. His Majasty had a very bored look upon his face, and he looked as though he had just returned from a visit to the Land of Nod.
    The jester was taking a cat nap up against the throne, and when the little party burst into the room he awoke with a start.
    "Why hello!" greeted the king brightening up at the prospect of visitors. And then settleing back against the pillows, he rang a little bell on the arm of the throne.
    "Supply the visitors with chairs, and bring in three---no, four glasses of punch, Hercules."
    "What about me?" squaked Talka indignently forgetting he was in royal presence. "I like punch too!"
    "Yes. Yes!" said the kind hurriedly. "Now," addressing Puffy "What is the business?"
    "Just visitors, Your Majesty," he replied, moving respectfully back from the throne.
    "Ah, visitors!" exclaimed the king beaming. "And now," leaning forward, "As long as there is no particular business, how about a stroll in the gardens?"
    Just then the butler returned carrying three folding chairs and a large tray, which he was balancing expertly on his head.

(Continued next week.)