The 8-year-old self-published author who snuck his book into the library Dillon Helbig wrote a book over winter break and slipped it onto a local library shelf in Boise, Idaho. After librarians found it, they entered it into their catalog. Now it's on a long waiting list.

This 8-year-old's book is a hit at his library. He offers advice for aspiring authors

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A new book recently entered the catalog of the Lake Hazel branch of the Ada Community Library in Boise, Idaho. That normally wouldn't be news, but the author of this one is 8 years old.

DILLON HELBIG: Well, the title is "The Adventures Of Dillon Helbig's Crismis" by Dillon Helbig His Self.

SIMON: And that, you may have guessed, is Dillon Helbig. He loves to read, to draw and write. And he's been making storybooks since he was about 6. And he really wanted a book he wrote to be on a library shelf, where other people could enjoy it. So on a trip to the library with his grandmother, Dillon snuck one in.

HELBIG: I covered this part with my hand and the rest with my body, so it looks like a normal library book. And I ran in and put it on one of the shelves and then read a book so I didn't look suspicious.

ALEX HARTMAN: Once we did find it, it was clear to us that this was just a very special item.

SIMON: Alex Hartman is a librarian and branch manager at the library where Dillon left his book. He found the illustrations in Dillon Helbig's book to be imaginative and sophisticated, believed the story was told with a mix of science fiction, historical fiction and fantasy.

HARTMAN: He's magically transported to the North Pole, chased by a moose into a portal which transports him back in time to 1621, where he joins the first Thanksgiving in colonial America. He's eaten by a giant turkey. And the book ends on a cliffhanger with a message that there will be a sequel to the story.

SIMON: Boy, I want to read this book. Alex Hartman says librarians ordinarily read reviews of books before they add them to the library's collection. Dillon Helbig's book obviously didn't have the advantage of that official endorsement, but...

HARTMAN: Several of the library staff, including our picture book selector, read through the book, and we really just determined that it fit all of our selection criteria.

SIMON: So they called the Helbig family and asked to add it. And the book has become popular - I mean, really popular. When we spoke with Alex Hartman earlier this week, it had 87 holds.

HARTMAN: We did reduce the checkout period to two weeks from four weeks to try to get the book into more hands. But even at two weeks, 87 people are going to be waiting for that book for quite some time.

SIMON: And he says they've heard from other children inspired by Dillon's story to write their own. And a local children's book author has now offered to work with Dillon to lead workshops for young readers at the library. The public acclaim has made Dillon excited about the idea of writing another, a revised version of a previous book he wrote about a closet that eats jackets.

HELBIG: It's based on actual events. Every time I get to recess, I open the closet, and my jacket is gone. So my mom and dad made a joke about the - about it's a jacket-eating closet. So me and my dad thought that would be a good book. It eats jackets for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

SIMON: Yum, yum. And he has this advice for aspiring authors.

HELBIG: Step 1, think about what you're going to write. Step 2, pick up the pencil. Step 3, draw what your mind is thinking of. Step 4, make it into a library book. Step 5, sneak into the library and put it on the shelf.

SIMON: And, of course, step 6...

HELBIG: Don't look suspicious.

SIMON: All right - author Dillon Helbig and librarian Alex Hartman.


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