The 2005 version is so interesting to me now, as I attempted to take on a mystical tone: the tree “felt” Centipede Dragon’s melancholy. Back then, I wanted to keep the text tone aligned to the image's origin, by incorporating an Asian-inspired, Zen-like way of thinking about the world, where all living things are interconnected. But tone hugely influences how you write your story. Word choice. Sentence structure. It further influences illustration style. So for me, an American-English style suited my story best, because it’s how I’ve been taught to write. And as an inexperienced writer, I needed to write the way I speak; else, I struggle too much.
The 2012 version shows major changes after bringing on a friend to help with editing, coupled with a much better understanding of the demands of the current children's market. The adult characters were replaced by children who then perform the action in the plot. The tone is also now devoid of the attempted “Asian” spirit.
Finally, the 2014 published version. The text is much more succinct, thanks to the help of a second editor-friend. But key to this version is FINALLY not “telling” each little thing happening in the story, and allowing the images to fill in those gaps. I mean, did I really need to tell you that Ben gasped after looking up when I've shown you that in the illustration?
The take-home message for your manuscript writing process is to acknowledge that while it will likely ALWAYS be in progress, “in-progress” doesn’t always equate to “unfinished.” Bring in fresh eyes and different perspectives at any stage of the writing, and continue to scrutinize your word choice to the bitter end. What this reflects is the depth to which you care about how your story will be received. And that will never be the wrong choice to make.