Pictures Words Us
Little House on the Tundra

Little House on the Tundra

Robbi has traveled to the Alaskan tundra every summer since 1976. I’ve been going up since 2000. Alden has been ten times so far, Kato eight, and Augie six. Jasper just made his inaugural visit. For all of those years, we have lived with Robbi’s family and... read more


  1. Congrats on the newly expanded homestead – and newly expanded list of inhabitants (welcome, Jasper!). Could not be happier for you all!

  2. What a great blog! Denny & Tim are my in-laws. I have been impressed with work they have done, but this is amazing. It was a team effort with great teammates. Hope I get to see some of your future memories in Alaska in future blogs. Enjoy.

  3. This is truly amazing. Your Dad told me the story, but the photos make it all real. What an accomplishment – in 16 days!!!

    • One thing is for sure, it could never have happened in 16 days without him!

  4. This is amazing to see their (Uncle Denny’s & cousin Tim’s) “Alaska cabin” project unfold like this! Thanks for documenting and sharing the experience. Now I’m looking forward to hearing the stories.

  5. Only been there once, but, god, I miss that place. The smoked salmon brought tears to my eyes. Oh, yeah, the house ain’t bad either. Got to go back at least once before I croak, that is if you’ll allow it.

  6. Awesome.

  7. This is so beautiful and amazing. I am in awe of the beauty of your corner of the Alaskan Tundra.

  8. Wow! What a project…what an outcome! We “Hotz’s” had a family reunion at the Lake of the Ozarks a few weeks prior to Tim and Denny’s departure. Always knowing the talent of this father-son duo, we had no idea of the scope of this building project. Congratulations to all of you. Memories are forever.
    PS. Your children are absolutely adorable!

  9. WOW! I’m in awe. But what of the logistics—where did all those additional people sleep? And how did they get fed?

    • Bernice: We have many buildings on the family compound. Although each one offers a different degrees of amenities, all have horizontal surfaces (aka “floors”) upon which mattresses (aka “aging wafers of foam” can be placed for comfortable (aka “technically not inhumane”) sleeping. As for food, the tundra nanny (aka “Matthew”) provided an unending stream of delightful (aka “delightful”) edibles.


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We are Robbi Behr and Matthew Swanson, an illustrator/writer, wife/husband, loafer/taskmaster duo.
This is our story.

At our desks


Pretty much everything we do, we do together, and all of it involves the combination of pictures and words.


We live and work together in the hayloft of an old barn on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, while occasionally providing meals for our insecure dog and three small children.



We run a small press called Idiots’Books that publishes what we tend to describe as “odd, commercially nonviable picture books for adults.”

Bobbledy Logo

We also run Bobbledy Books, a small press that publishes children’s books and music and encourages kids to get involved in writing, drawing, and making.

We spend a lot of our time traveling the country, sharing what we know with anyone who cares to listen. We give talks, run workshops, and do short-term residencies at conferences, colleges, companies, and kindergartens.

Along the way, we’ve had some unexpected adventures in trade publishing, including titles with Chronicle Books and LB Kids—as well as two forthcoming picture books and an illustrated middle grades series with Macmillan Kids.

Looking back, it has been an unexpected journey. In 2006, we quit our jobs, sold our house, gave up our health insurance, and moved across the Chesapeake Bay to make books for a year until we ran out of money. It was a recipe for certain financial ruin.

But somehow, we didn’t run out of money. We just kept making stuff together and somehow, the word kept spreading.

Eight years later, we’re still going strong. We don’t sleep much, and we get a lot of papercuts, but somehow, improbably, our job is to getting up in the morning and making stuff together.

We wouldn’t have it any other way.

If you’re interested, please check out our blog and our store, or join our mailing list. And let us know if you’re interested in booking us for a talk or other event.

For now, we’re getting back to it.