Something New on the Bobbledy Blog

Hello all, 

While you all sit there reveling in the cozy afterglow of reading the answers to Matthew Draws 17, I want to take a moment to tell you about the big changes happening over on the Bobbledy Blog.

Starting last Sunday, we are trying something new, which is to organize each week of posts around a theme, something like mountains or snowflakes or antelopes or planets or engines, and throughout the week, we’ll post about that theme, sometimes information, sometimes stories or pictures, sometimes prompts and quizzes. The idea is to give kids (and interested grownups) a chance to 1) learn something, 2) make something,  3) see what other kids are making and, most importantly, 4) have fun.

Here’s how the week is going to work:


We announce the theme and tell you a little bit about whatever it is we’re focusing on. For example, if the theme were “planets,” we might tell you that there used to be nine of them and now there are eight. We might include a photo of Saturn. We might link to a video in which all of the planets join together to sing “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” in eight-part harmony while Pluto sits there gently weeping.

Here’s the post introducing the theme of this week (http://www NULL.bobbledybooks


Matthew will post a story about the theme. If the theme were “earthquakes,” he would write a story about an earthquake. It would probably be a story that ends well, since this is a blog for children. Kids will be invited (and encouraged) to submit their own stories about earthquakes in the comments field (so that everyone can see them right away)

Here’s Matthew’s story for this week (http://www NULL.bobbledybooks A few kids have already posted their stories. Feel free to join in. It’s perfectly ok for non-kids to take a gander at story making.


Robbi will post an illustration from Matthew’s story. For example, if the theme were “ice cream,” Robbi’s drawing would probably include the world’s largest ice cream sundae, even if Matthew’s story had been about the world’s smallest ice cream sundae. Because Robbi is nothing if not a rebel. Kids would then be invited (and encouraged) to post their own drawings of ice cream in the comments field (so that everyone can see them right away). Also: Robbi’s illustration will be posted for auction.

Robbi’s beaver drawing will go up at 12:30 pm today, Tuesday, January


We will post a quiz with questions related to the theme. For example, if the theme were “volcanoes,” we might ask where the world’s largest volcano is to be found, or the approximate temperature of molten lava, or how many active volcanoes there are in the world. Kids would then submit their answers and find out right away if they were right (instead of waiting days and days for us to respond).


This is something entirely new: a day just  for parents.

Parents’ Roundtable

Every other Thursday, we will be posting Parents Roundtable, a forum for discussion of real issues surrounding parenting. We’ll post a question or topic and you will have the chance to share your ideas and experiences with other parents of kids in the Bobbledy Club. I know for a fact that there are a lot of smart, thoughtful, amazing parents in our midst. We think it’s high time that we started talking.

Kid Reviews from Kidskel and Weebert

On the other Thursdays, we will be posting reviews of books we love, with Alden (Kidskel) and Kato (Weebert) providing the ratings and commentary. Harsher critics the world has never known. Unless there are garishly colored ponies included, in which case the thumbs point straight up.


We will be presenting a mash-up of our favorite kid-submitted content from throughout the week. We’ll award a prize for the week’s best submission. In addition to fame and the accompanying feelings of self-worth, the winner will receive a personalized certificate and a archival print of the week’s illustration.


Will be a day of rest. Or a day of catching up.

And that’s that. We’ll see how it goes. Please come join in the fun!




What You’re Thankful For

What You’re Thankful For

As you may or may not know, every Wednesday we post a prompt over on the Bobbledy blog. Sometimes it’s a prompt to draw a picture (http://www NULL.bobbledybooks and sometimes it’s a prompt to write a story (http://www NULL.bobbledybooks This week’s prompt (http://www NULL.bobbledybooks is a request for stories of gratitude. As in, what are you thankful for as the holiday season rolls around again.

To be sure, Bobbledy Books is mostly for kids, and I can’t wait to hear kids say, in their own words, what they’re thankful for. But this particular prompt seems appropriate for people of all ages. So, if you’re willing, drop us a line (matthew null@null idiotsbooks and tell us what you’re thankful for today. It doesn’t have to be a “story,” exactly. It could be as simple as,

“My name is Matthew, and I am thankful for turkey.”

I need your responses by the end of the day tomorrow (Monday), as I’ll be posting responses on Tuesday.

Gratitude is one of the most powerful forces I’ve ever encountered. Share a little of yours, and get a whole lot back.


Back to School

Back to School

Yesterday, we had a special treat, which was being invited to give two assemblies at Chestertown’s own Henry Highland Garnett Elementary School.

What you might not know is that Garnett is the alma mater of one Robbi Kato Behr.

We had come to talk about being a writer and illustrator, to read a few of our Bobbledy titles, and to answer questions from the curious young K-5ers in attendance.

The ceilings were lower than Robbi remembered.

And the lockers were smaller.

But one thing hadn’t changed a bit.

It was true then and it’s true now. Fourth graders don’t monkey around.

We got set up in the gym, where a huge screen was waiting for us. As were a line of colorful plastic cones meant to keep the enthusiastic hordes from rushing the stage.

Eventually the kids started to file in. We started with the 3rd-5th graders.

We showed some photos of our barn, talked a bit about process, and read a few books.

The kids listened attentively as we read The Imaginary Dragon (http://bobbledyshop dived right in when we asked them to help us pronounce all the long words that litter Archipelago (http://bobbledyshop

Eventually, the big kids filed out and the K-2nd graders filed in. They were equally polite though a little less adept at asking questions. We did get quite a few observations, however. I think they found a hero in Bobby of Bobby and the Robots (http://bobbledyshop, he who refuses to get out of bed in the morning.

After the second assembly, Robbi was mobbed. Who knew that hugging an illustrator was such a popular pastime? Other than I, of course.

It was my first time inside Garnett, and I was really impressed. The place was full of warmth and energy, the teachers were so welcoming, and the kids couldn’t have been more respectful and engaged. I’m excited to think of Alden starting first grade there next fall.

It was a great way to spend Halloween morning.

Head on over to the Bobbledy blog to see how we passed the evening (http://www NULL.bobbledybooks Spoiler alert: Kato dressed up as a jet plane.

New Auction: Knitting Skeleton

New Auction: Knitting Skeleton

Robbi’s latest strange drawing/painting is now available for auction (http://www NULL.ebay

Here’s a shot from the painting table, as the gouache was still drying on the paper.

Created as a prompt for this week’s Bobbledy writing prompt, this knitting skeleton was the inspiration for a bunch of wonderful stories. If you have a few minutes, you might get a chuckle out of reading them (http://www NULL.bobbledybooks

Or if you are impatient to lay down some cold, hard cash, here’s the Ebay link (http://www NULL.ebay

Bobbledy Renewal Reminder – LAST CHANCE TO GET THE DRAGON

Bobbledy Renewal Reminder – LAST CHANCE TO GET THE DRAGON

Hello friends. Several of you have indicated that you need to be reminded to renew your subscriptions. More than once, you say.

We hate nagging about subscriptions because we don’t ever want to feel like we’re asking for your money. We are happy to take your money and use it to buy ink, paper, postage, etc., but only if you are genuinely interested in the stuff we send you in return.

That said, because we have heard that your lives are busy and that reminders are helpful, we are writing to remind you that:

Those of you who have yet to renew your Bobbledy Books subscription (http://bobbledyshop have only TWO DAYS LEFT to renew and still get The Imaginary Dragon (http://bobbledyshop

In case you’re not in the Bobbledy know, The Imaginary Dragon is the first book of the second year of Bobbledy.

It is the tale of a friendly (but rather insecure) dragon named Bill who gets teased, has an existential crisis, irritates a king,

takes a long, rejuvenating nap,

and comes to discover his vital importance to the economic sub-structure of the nearby village.

He also eats a lot of corn and burps a lot of fireballs in the process.

In the back of the book, we include step-by-step instructions for creating one’s own dragon (complete with moving jaws).

Here is Milo’s dragon. I cannot tell whether or not it (or Milo, for that matter) is imaginary, but he seems to be cheerful, which is really all that we hope for.

If you enjoyed year one of Bobbledy and want to join us for year two, renew your membership (http://bobbledyshop by the end of the day tomorrow (Friday, September 6) to receive a copy of The Imaginary Dragon (http://bobbledyshop After Friday, we’ll be resuming memberships with our next book, which is this year’s “Make-Your-Own Book” book, called The Snowmen Below.

I would like to tell you what this book is about, but first some kid has to write it.

Of course, we’re also happy to welcome new Bobbledy club members (http://bobbledyshop, too. The same offer applies. Any orders that come through before the end of tomorrow will start with the Dragon.

And while we’re on the topic, any of you erstwhile Idiots’Books subscribers are welcome to rejoin the ranks. Subscription prices have plunged to the comfortable price of $40/year. Just yesterday we sent out the latest book, Koochie is Free. It’s the story of a wandering sort of superhero cowboy. It also happens to be a comic, our first foray into the form. But more on that to come. If you want to renew (http://store NULL.idiotsbooks NULL.asp?Cat=3) (or subscribe for the first time (http://store NULL.idiotsbooks NULL.asp?Cat=3)), we will do a little dance in your honor.

Take 37

Take 37

Yesterday we sent out the latest in a series of e-newsletters for Bobbledy Books. In the off chance that you did not get one, you can read it here (http://us2 NULL.campaign-archive1 (it’s really quite riveting stuff).

Each newsletter opens with a big tone-setting photo. For this one, which was celebrating the one-year anniversary of Bobbledy Books, we wanted to get a picture of ourselves in party hats, throwing confetti. Easy as pie, right?

In theory, yes. In reality, not so much.

Robbi set up the camera on a tripod.

The plan was, I would crouch at the far end of our work table with confetti in hand, Robbi would activate the timer and then run over and crouch next to me. At the appropriate moment, I would throw the confetti in the air, we would smile, and the perfect photo would result.

You know what they say about plans…

Here was our first attempt. Robbi’s opinion: I needed to look at the camera instead of looking up; my arm needed to come down.

I agreed. And so we took another.

Alas, we threw the confetti too soon. It has already landed by the time the picture was taken.

Again, too soon.

Better timing, but too much confetti in front of Robbi’s face.

Better, but Robbi looks like she’s on drugs.

Too much confetti in front of my face. Robbi looks like she’s about to burst into tears.

WAY too soon throwing the confetti.

Again, too soon. I look like I might knife someone.

A bit too soon with the confetti; my hand is in front of Robbi’s face.

Good timing on the confetti, but too much of it was thrown.

Frustration mounting, my timing is thrown hopelessly off-kilter. Too soon with the confetti.

Too soon.


Well-timed confetti, just way too much of it.

In retrospect, I wonder if we should have just used this photo and called it a day. But ultimately, we figure it’s important for the people getting the email to know that it’s from us.

And so we tried again, and the last time proved to be the charm. We got the shot we wanted.

A little bit of cropping and photo filter magic yielded this:

Which turned out to be just the image we needed for the Bobbledy newsletter (http://us2 NULL.campaign-archive1

But at what cost?

At the end of the shoot, there was what I consider to be unreasonable amounts of clutter around my desk area.

Robbi’s take was along the lines of, “Suck it up, Yo. That’s the price of art.”

While I’ve been around long enough to know that the muse must occasionally be compensated, the price of art has a funny way of always being paid in my half of the studio.