Introducing the Bus Whisperer
by Matthew
October 25, 2021

This is our dear friend Brian Thompson.

He’s an incredible guy and an excellent carpenter. He makes his own yogurt and kimchee. He’s also the person overseeing our bus conversion.

When Robbi and I first started thinking about our tour, we figured we’d buy some sort of RV to live in for the year. We looked at various models but were uninspired by the options and daunted by the prices. (Why exactly do so many RVs have those swoopy beige shapes on the side?)

Brian suggested we check a big RV show in Hershey, PA, which featured acre upon acre of every shape, size and configuration of movable dwelling. There were some very cool options. But as we stood there admitting to ourselves that nothing felt quite right, Brian suggested maybe we should just buy a decommissioned school bus, which he could transform into a rolling tiny home.

Once that seed was planted, we never looked back. What better vehicle to serve as our mobile literacy headquarters as we bring books to schools across the country?

Robbi immediately dove into online research—figuring out how to acquire a bus and what features to look for. A few days later, she found one that seemed to check all the boxes.

Brian and I drove down to North Carolina one afternoon in 2019. Just to have a look. We thought of it as “research” and had no intention of actually making a purchase.

Instead, we ended up driving it home that day, with hopes of starting renovations a few weeks later. And then the pandemic hit, and it’s been sitting in a friend’s field for the past 18 months.

But now, with our September 2022 departure in mind, Brian has gotten to work. I’ll post on his progress soon. For now, I just wanted you to meet him.

We’ve had a blast brainstorming possibilities and wrapping our minds around how to eke the most functionality and comfort out of the extremely tiny footprint.

We can’t thank Brian enough for his perfect idea and his excellent work. He may not be coming on the tour, but he’ll be with us every mile we travel.

To learn more or sponsor a book for a kid:

To consult with Brian about your own dream project, check out Red Door Remodeling.


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The Busload of Books Tour is a year-long project to promote literacy and raise awareness of the challenges facing our nation’s public schools.

Author/illustrator duo Matthew Swanson and Robbi Behr (that’s us) and our four kids will spend the 2022-2023 school year traveling the country in a school bus/tiny home, visiting Title I schools in all 50 states (plus DC), and giving away 25,000 hardcover books to students and teachers from underserved communities.

As we travel, we will be blogging, vlogging and posting frequently to social media. All of our content will be appropriate for bringing families and students along on our ultimate road trip.

The latest on Instagram:

The Daily Minute: 12.9.22
In which, having just arrived in Texas, we plan to spend the night in Jasper County.


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Robbi got this text from Erica Bridwell (known to friends and colleagues as “B”), the first-grade teacher who hosted Jasper during Tuesday’s visit to North Pike Elementary School in Summit, Mississippi. We signed a copy of Everywhere, Wonder for B, and Robbi had written in the dedication to “keep fighting the good fight.”
It’s a difficult time to be a teacher, especially at a school with limited resources and especially when serving kids who bring additional challenges to school. Educators need a boost every bit as much as their students do.
We’re sharing this to show that the tour is also for them, and maybe even more so. 
“We miss y’all! It felt like a part of us left when y’all did. Y’all have NO IDEA the impact you’re making not only on kids, but adults too! I haven’t had the easiest school year so far. I have felt defeated, frustrated, and overwhelmed. My connection with my students has felt faint and really nonexistent… I’ve struggled to find ways to motivate them, encourage them more… then y’all come along and somehow it has put fire back into me. Your words have made me reflect since I read them… “keep fighting the good fight…” it was powerful. I had that “full moon feeling” that feeling of how much I love what I do. I thought of what it means to me and what those kids mean to me. I remembered why God chose me to do this. Your kind words lifted me up. So thank you. Thank y’all. What y’all are doing is amazing! Safe travels! I’ll be following!”

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The Daily Minute: 12.8.22
In which we bask in the sweet Louisiana night and brace ourselves for the enormity of Texas.


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Whoever you are, take your seat on the bus!

Our adventure is your adventure. Our country is your country, too. Follow along with us!