We are Robbi Behr and Matthew Swanson, an illustrator/writer, wife/husband, loafer/taskmaster duo.
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 four small children.
These days, we spend most of our time making books for kids—including the critically acclaimed middle grade series Cookie Chronicles and The Real McCoys and our picture books Sunrise Summer, Babies Ruin Everything, and Everywhere, Wonder.
We’re busy planning for our next big adventure: spending the 2022-23 school year living and traveling in a tiny home school bus, visiting Title I schools in all 50 states, and giving away 25,000 free books to students and teachers from low-income communities. Please join us!
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 enjoy virtual programming. Contact us to inquire.
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.
Fourteen 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.
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.
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 LIVE AT THE INTERSECTION OF PICTURES, WORDS, AND PAPER
VARIOUS MAGAZINES, NEWSPAPERS, AND WEBSITES HAVE SEEN FIT TO GIVE US A NOD.
The Modern Life column did a profile of our family and the “joys and challenges of raising kids while working from home.”
The Washington Post
Pulitzer Prize-winning book critic Michael Dirda noted our “never-ending exuberance and flair for mischief.”
The New York Times
In an interview on their ArtsBeats blog, referred to Idiots’Books as a “very successful indie publishing business.”
Ran a four-part series on our creative partnership by acclaimed nonfiction writer Joshua Wolf Shenk.
Included our book Ten Thousand Stories in its 2014 Holiday Gift Guide.
Referring to our book Build Your Own President, novelist Cory Doctorow referred to us as “flipbook masters.”
New York magazine
Classified our work in the “Brilliant and Lowbrow” quadrant of their Approval Matrix. We wouldn’t have it any other way.
On its Pop Candy blog, named Idiots’Books among its “top-10 ‘personal faves” of the indie comic world.
On its Great Writing blog, called us “downright inspiring” and “relentlessly innovative storytellers.”
Has featured our work three times on its GeekMom blog, calling us a “hilarious husband and wife team.”