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Spot the Difference: I WANT MY BOOK BACK by Viviane Elbee

Guest blog post by Viviane Elbee

Viviane Elbee is the author of I WANT MY BOOK BACK published by Little Bee Books in 2022. You can order it here.

My book I WANT MY BOOK BACK started off with this draft:


My favorite book.  It looks good.  It smells good.  It reads good.  “Danny!  Time to go to the library!" Uh oh.  My book!  Quick.  Nobody will find it here. "Where’s the library book, Danny?""What book?""Found it!”“NOOOOO!!!!!”“We have to return it.  Do you want to slide it in the bin?”“NOOOO!!!  MY BOOK!”“If you yell again, we’re leaving.  Come on, let’s find another book.”My book is in that library bin.  Maybe I can slide my hand in and get it?  Nope.  Maybe I can unlock the door?“Danny, stop trying to break the bin.  Come this way.”I know.  I’ll ask the librarian.  “Hello.  I want MY dino book back please.”“We’ve got lots of dinosaur books this way.”Hmpf.  That’s not my book.  Nor that.  Nor that.Wait!  There it is!  My dino book!“No Danny.  We just read that book 700 times.  Find another book.”“NOOOO!!!”“That’s it.  We’re leaving without ANY books.”Oh nooo!  My book!  Think fast.  “One minute, I’ll put my book back.”“One minute.”Where should I hide my book?  Here?  There?  Oh… Nobody will EVER find it UP HERE!“Danny!  Climb down NOW.  We’re leaving.”I can’t sleep without my bedtime story.“We can go back to library tomorrow, if you behave.  Now, sleep.”I can’t sleep.  I need my book.


Here is a photo of a later draft, which is hand-written.

(I go back and forth between typing them up and handwriting drafts). This later draft has a different title - I NEED MY BOOK. (The title switched around the 5th draft). The main character's name has changed to Daryl. The beginning has changed quite a bit and we get to the book return problem much faster. I'm starting to bring out more of Daryl's dinosaur-loving side. In case you have trouble reading my handwriting, here is what it says:


Daryl found the best book in the library. It took him on roaring, stomping adventures.

But one day, his mother dropped the book in the return bin.

“Nooo!” (Roar!) Daryl needed that book. He tried to get it out of the bin."Let’s pick out another book""Nooo! Roar!"Back home, Daryl didn’t know what to do.He didn’t feel like reading. He didn’t feel like playing. And he couldn’t sleep without his bedtime story.His mother suggested other books."How about this book about dogs?""No! Roar.""Bugs?"No. Stomp.

A first round of submissions went out with the 25th draft. I changed the title to I WANT MY BOOK BACK right before submissions, thanks to a suggestion from a critique partner. Daryl's dinosaur-loving side is very amped up in this version. Also, it's no longer just his mom returning the book - now readers know that Daryl HAS to return the book because that book is on hold at the library. (This version also completely eliminated the bedtime story spread that was present in earlier drafts because Natascha Morris (my agent at that time) pushed for a more active version).


Daryl LOVED one library book. It took him on roaring, stomping dinosaur adventures. It was fun to read, play, and snuggle with, but it was NOT for sharing.

Daryl renewed it again and again until one day he received a message: “Cannot renew - book on hold.” "Time to share that book with other kids.” Mommy dropped the book in the return bin.

“ROAR!!!” Daryl tried his best T-Rex moves to retrieve it. “I want MY BOOK back!”

That did not go as planned.

Back home, Mommy suggested other options. “A bunny book?”“ROAR!”“Playtime?”STOMP!“Snuggly sleep-time?”“ROAR!” STOMP. “ROAR!”Daryl needed his book back NOW.

After the first round of submissions, I did some more revisions for a "Revise and Resubmit" request and got an offer for what was draft #35. (The beginning didn't change much between draft 25 and 35 though. During this time I was mainly revising the middle section.

The middle section used to have a big tantrum for the climax and the tantrum was removed for just one really loud roar. It sounds like a simple fix but it involved changing quite a few middle spreads to get it to "land" just right.)

After the contract was signed I did some more revisions based on the editor's notes. (Brett Duquette is the editor).

The final published version is marked as the 40th draft on my computer.

Here's the opening to the final published version:


Daryl loved only one book. It took him on roaring, stomping dinosaur adventures.

He glided like a microraptor and charged like a triceratops.

It was so fun to read and play with. But Daryl's book was


Daryl renewed his book from the library again and again, until one day:


"Time to share with other kids," Mommy said, dropping the book in the return bin.

"ROAR!!" Daryl tried his best T. Rex moves to retrieve it. "I want MY BOOK back!"

Back home, Mommy tried to cheer up Daryl. "A bunny book?"




"Snuggle time?"


Daryl needed his book back NOW.


Viviane Elbee is the author of I WANT MY BOOK BACK, illustrated by Nicole Miles & published by Little Bee Books as well as TEACH YOUR GIRAFFE TO SKI, illustrated by Danni Gowdy, published by Albert Whitman & Co.  Her work has also appeared in Highlights High Five magazine. She is represented by Christie Megill at The CAT Agency.

​When not writing, Viviane has all kinds of adventures with her family, both at home in the Carolinas and abroad.  ​

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