about us

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

At our desks

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

We live and work in the hayloft of an old barn on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, while occasionally providing meals for our four kids and two ridiculous dogs.

These days, we spend most of our time making books for kids—including the critically acclaimed middle grade series Cookie Chronicles series, The Real McCoys trilogy, the forthcoming Life on the Moon (2026), and our picture books Sunrise Summer, Babies Ruin Everything, and Everywhere, Wonder.

OUR BOOKS HAVE BEEN:

  • “Honored with starred reviews from School Library Journal, Booklist, and Publishers Weekly

  • Recognized by the American Library Association, the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, and the Bank Street College of Education

  • Named Junior Library Guild “Gold Standard” selections

  • Named “book of the month” by Amazon editors

  • Nominated for seventeen state book awards

After spending the 2022-23 school year bringing free books and creative programming Title I elementary schools in all 50 states on our Busload of Books Tour, we continue to serve twelve Title I schools each year—offering free books and assemblies in partnership with First Book and Build-A-Bear Foundation.

When we’re not making books, we travel the country, visiting schools, giving talks, running workshops, and doing short-term residencies at conferences, elementary schools, colleges, libraries, and Fortune 100 companies. We also offer virtual programming. Contact us to inquire.

We check in with our readers and fans every day via the Daily Minute—a sixty-second glimpse into whatever project, adventure, or miscellany we happen to be consumed with on any given day. You can follow along on Instagram, Facebook, or YouTube.

Our books and projects have gotten some nice press—from our appearance on The Drew Barrymore Show to our profile  in the Washington Post to these stories in People magazine and Forbes. If you’d like to hear our interview on LinkedIn’s Hello Monday podcast, we will not try to stop you.

 

 

 

Oh, and we also spend our summers on the Alaskan tundra running a small, shore-based commercial salmon fishing operation while living in a cabin with no electricity, toilet, shower, or hot water heater. Robbi has spent every summer there since she was 18 months old. Our latest picture book Sunrise Summer tells the story of our own daughter’s first summer as a member of the fishing crew.

Our life together 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.

 

Eighteen 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 getting up in the morning and making stuff together.

 

We wouldn’t have it any other way.

ROBBI BEHR

is an illustrator/print maker/commercial salmon fisherwoman who earned a BA from Williams College and an MFA from the Savannah College of Art and Design. When she is not drawing stuff or eating ice cream or watching sappy late-90s rom-coms, she is, in all likelihood, fast asleep.

MATTHEW SWANSON

is a writer/art director/blues harmonica player who has so far failed in every attempt to be swashbuckling. He managed to secure a BA from Williams but was summarily rejected from every MFA program to which he applied—thus emboldening Robbi to remind him almost daily that he is a master of nothing.

WE STARTED OUT RUNNING TWO SMALL PRESSES THAT THRIVED AT THE INTERSECTION OF PICTURES, WORDS, AND ABSURDITY

Idiots’Books specialized in odd, commercially nonviable picture books for adults and distributed them via a quarterly subscription service in the US mail. Whether funny or wrenching or lovely or poignant or weird, each of the 43 titles shines a light on the foibles and failings that describe and define the human condition.
Bobbledy Books was a picture book and music club for kids, delivering fun and inspiring content eight times a year in the US mail. From playful picture books to drawing and writing prompts to a yearly album of off-the-wall children’s tunes, Bobbledy content celebrated the fun of reading, writing, and plain old imagining.

VARIOUS MAGAZINES, NEWSPAPERS, AND WEBSITES HAVE SEEN FIT TO GIVE US A NOD.

SELECT MEDIA

THE DREW BARRYMORE SHOW

Live appearance from McElwain Elementary in Denver, Colorado (as part of the Busload of Books Tour)

FORBES

NYT bestselling author MeiMei Fox on the Busload of Books Tour. Read it here.

WASHINGTON POST 2019

Four-page profile of our lives as creators (cover story of magazine insert). Click here to read.

PEOPLE MAGAZINE

Print and online feature in People’s Smile section.

WASHINGTON POST 2021

Feature on the launch of The Cookie of Perfection and the Busload of Books Tour here.

RURALITE MAGAZINE

Cover story about the Busload of Books Tour. Read it here.

WE NEED DIVERSE BOOKS

A conversation about how illustration can be a form of authorship—and a tool for increasing representation in kid lit. Click here to read.

SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL

An interview with fellow author Betsy Bird—about our creative process and the Busload of Books Tour. Click here to read.

RELUCTANT READER BOOKS

Our favorite-ever review of The Cookie Chronicles—and why these books are a good match for readers trying to find their footing. Read it here.

NEW YORK TIMES

An interview with the ArtsBeats blog about our indie press Idiots’Books. Read it here.

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

The official book-world announcement of the Busload of Books Tour is here.

SELECT PODCASTS

HELLO MONDAY

We join LinkedIn’s Jessi Hempel for a conversation about leaving our day jobs to make books and kids. Listen here.

END BOOK DESERTS

We talk with teacher, scholar, author, and literacy advocate Molly Ness about the Busload of Books Tour here.

THE AUTONOMOUS CREATIVE PODCAST

Our conversation with comic artist Jessica Abel about risk, reward, and making your own luck can be found here.

THE AUTONOMOUS CREATIVE - with video!

Our conversation with comic artist Jessica Abel about risk, reward, and making your own luck. The crowdcast can be found here.