In Which Snow Is Falling and the Day Is Cold But Our Hearts Are Warm
by Matthew
October 14, 2022

Robbi planned our tour route to avoid cold weather, and especially snow.

The bus isn’t insulated and there are six external mirrors to defrost. Minnesota didn’t get the memo.

We woke to snow and cold on the morning of our visit to Garden City Elementary. Our host, Callíe Bray recognized my (Matthew’s) distress and started our visit by handing me a coffee. This helped, but I was still cold. A trip into the hallway took the edge off.

As the kids streamed into the school, they gathered in clumps and whispered, pointing at us surreptitiously. We make a customized video for each school we visit, which we send in advance for our hosts to share with the kids and teachers before we arrive. The point is to create anticipation for our visit and to let them know we’re just regular people, ready to laugh and have fun. The result is high excitement and whispers of “They’re really here!” and “We saw you on TV!”

We introduced ourselves, and the second the kids realized we were friendly and approachable, we were buried in mountains of big, soul-affirming hugs. The snow was forgotten.

There was nothing but warmth in that hallway.

I went down to the cafeteria to have breakfast with a group of kids, getting the chance to see them joking and laughing with each other. For a second, it took me back to fifth grade, which was a pretty good year, as I remember.

The kids in our small group were amazing as always—curious, creative, eager to share their ideas for a better world.

Callíe didn’t sign up to be our host. But when her colleague who applied for the tour last year left the school, she took over with gusto, doing all the planning and coordinating it takes to host a visit.

When the time came to leave, Callíe sent us off with a backpack full of art supplies for the kids and a ziplock full of espresso shots for me. Something to keep us all happy and warm on the long road ahead.

Needless to say, we love Callíe, and we heart Minnesota.




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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: 2.21.24
In which, 35 training sessions later, Jasper is ready to pilot the big cart.

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Robbi and I are heading to your fair city on Sunday for a busy week of back-to-back school visits. We’ll be doing many presentations, various lunches, several dinners, and an evening meet-and-greet. (This is where you come in.)
Should you care to meet us or greet us or give us a hug, we’ll be at the Glenside Library in Glendale Heights from 3:30-5:00pm next Tuesday night (Feb 27), meeting and greeting and hopefully seeing you.

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The Daily Minute: 2.20.24
In which Robbi is on strike, Jasper shows no mercy, and Dumbles holds strong opinions we cannot comprehend.

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The Daily Minute: 2.19.24
In which we are scheming and dreaming of fewer hats and no joy.

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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!