Random House Books for Young Readers, 2019, 136 pages
Trigger Warnings: Freak flags flying
About the Author: Matthew Gray Gubler—best known for his role as criminal profiler Dr. Spencer Reid in the CBS television show Criminal Minds—is a storyteller from Las Vegas, Nevada, who directs, paints, writes, acts, and knows magic. He also loves to voice cartoon characters, look for ghosts, and wear soft pajamas.
For more information, you can find him in a bathtub or at:
“When Rumple wasn’t building stuff out of garbage or talking to Carl he would listen to the voices above ground and pretend they were talking to him”
Rumple Buttercup isn’t like everyone else, not with his five crooked teeth, three strands of hair, green skin, or one, oversized foot. In fact, he’s weird. With his only friend Carl, a collection of garbage pieces glued to the wall of his home inside a sewer grate, Rumple can do little more than camouflage himself under a banana peel and secretly watch the normal people above go about their normal lives. But, as the Annual Pajama Jam Cotton Candy Pancake Parade approaches—his favorite day of the year—he’ll soon find out that being weird may not be as lonely of an existence as he thought.
Responding directly to the classic, children’s trope of the ugly duckling, Gubler, instead, celebrates our diversity through the character of Rumple, a lonely soul afraid to enter the world because of his inherent weirdness. The story, while exploring the complex issues of self-image, isolation, and depression, still clearly paints a portrait of acceptance in the face of assimilation. Despite his fears of fitting in, Rumple begins to see that the “normal” people above ground are really just as weird as he is, allowing him to finally accept that his strangeness is not a curse, after all, but the very thing that makes him a unique part of a larger community.
PRR writer- Joe Buckler