The Early Works of Colleen Oakley (in Crayon)

Most esteemed writers from history seem to have a bound tome called “The Early Works of [Insert Esteemed Author Name Here]”. I am not esteemed or historical (that you know of; I could have travelled in time through some magical stones from 1700s Scotland in a reverse form of Outlander, but that would mean that I left Jamie McTavish behind, and let’s be clear — I would never, ever do that. Ever.)

Anyway, since The Early Works of Colleen Oakley will probably never be, um, in the works, I’m creating one in this blog, because this week on The Ball we’re all discussing our first stories. Here are three books that I wrote a few (OK, 25) years ago, in my elementary and middle school days, because I always knew I wanted to be a writer, blah, blah, blah. Without further ado…

The Hungry Centipede

IMG_6225Pretend for a second that the book The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle doesn’t exist and that this is not, in fact, plagiarism. This not-work-of-plagiarism was penned by myself and a girl named Michelle Jordan, who was probably my best friend for like a week in the 6th grade, but now I can’t remember what she looked like. Anyway, this is the riveting story of a centipede named Henry (fun fact: that is my son’s name, so I guess I’ve always been partial to it), who eats a lot of fruit. The more fruit he eats, the longer he gets. See below.

He eats an apple first, and it adds one circle to his body.
At the end, you’ve created a long, happy, colorful centipede! Genius, I know.

The Red Balloon

IMG_6230This was a solo work (I guess Michelle Jordan and I were totally OVER at this point), and it’s my first book entirely written in rhyme. “Herman blew up a red balloon/ Actually it was a bit maroon.”

Heavy stuff.

The artwork is original and, of course, brilliant. According to my mom.

When My Sister and I Were Young

IMG_6233Last but certainly not least: This book is actually bound in cardboard and contact paper, so I really put some effort into it. And I wrote it at the age of 12, so obviously I was OLD and had a lot of great perspective and time to ruminate about my wasted youth. For some reason, I refer to my mom as “mother” and draw her wearing a kerchief. Apparently I thought I grew up in the 1950s. (For the record, I did not.)

Anyway, a sneak peek into that one:

We were not actually prisoners in our own house. Please don’t call DFACS.

There you have it! My never-before-seen-except-by-my-mom-and-teachers first books. If you’ll excuse, I’ll just be waiting for a children’s book agent to call. Or Eric Carle’s lawyer.

Author: Colleen Oakley

Colleen Oakley is the author of BEFORE I GO (Simon & Schuster/Gallery, Jan. 2015), a love story. A former editor for Marie Claire and Women's Health & Fitness, she's now an Atlanta-based freelance writer. Find out more at

9 Replies to “The Early Works of Colleen Oakley (in Crayon)”

    1. I’m sorry to say that this was the height of my artistic skills — they’ve only diminished with time. 🙂 But at the rate my second book is going — perhaps a picture book would be easier at this point??

  1. I love the illustrations! So adorable! If you were a kid today, you’d probably have artwork from Creative Commons and a musical background with your Ken Burns style panning motion. I like you illustrations better;-)

  2. Very cute. The caterpillar one is quite clever!

    My mom keeps reminding me that FDL isn’t my debut novel, because at age 5, I wrote The Battle Of The Bread And Jams (completely without vowels). Sadly, it met its fate in a fire. It’s a shame, because I can’t recall which side won the battle, and would love to know. 😉

  3. I’m incredibly impressed with the Balloon/Maroon line. I like the play with colors and words there. Clearly you were meant for the wordsmithy life from a young age.

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