This may surprise you, but Criminal Minds actor and director Matthew Gray Gubler has a quirky side. This became evident to me after I read the children's book he wrote (by hand) and illustrated, and even more so when I read his delightful piece below.
Rumple Buttercup is a sweet and inspiring story of belonging and the beauty of differences that make us unique. Rumple Buttercup has five teeth, green skin, and lives underground, all alone. But he longs to be above ground, where people are laughing, having fun, being friends, and not being weird. Rumple thinks he doesn't belong, but wants a companion so badly that he creates one out of trash. The ending is uplifting and the illustrations are wonderful. Rumple Buttercup is a character that grabs your heart from the very beginning and I hope we haven't seen the last of him.
Below you'll find an exclusive piece Gubler wrote for the Amazon Book Review about how Rumple Buttercup came to be, and photos of his early work on the book that spanned many leather bound notebooks.
*Rumple Buttercup is an editors' pick for the Best Children's Book of April
The idea for Rumple Buttercup came to me one afternoon while I was eating mint chip ice cream and staring at a banister made of lacquered wood. All my life, I had wanted to make a book that felt like a one-of-a-kind present from your favorite uncle, but as a self-taught painter who always strives to surprise himself, I couldn’t figure out how to create a character that I could replicate for an entire book. I never try to predict what will happen when I make something, and instead relent total control to the dancing ghosts in my knuckles. So a task that demanded duplication seemed impossible, insane, and like it was better suited to someone with a hand that wasn’t haunted.
Right when I was about to give up and go back to staring at that pleasant-looking banister, I heard what seemed to be a strange, muffled gurgling. It started out kind of low, and then it got louder. At first I thought it must be the radiator, but this was late July. The sound slowly changed from a gurgle to more of a high-pitched marimba tune. My toe began to tap with the music, and my head began to bop, as my eyes darted around the room trying to figure out just where this catchy tune was coming from. . . .
IT WAS COMING FROM MY ICE CREAM!
I looked down, and there, right in the middle of my bowl, I saw a nervous little green guy shyly dancing to the same beat. But the moment I spotted him, he quickly tried to duck under my last scoop of ice cream. I shoved the entire scoop into my mouth so he had nowhere to hide, and with mint chip dripping down the corners of my mouth, I asked, “What’s wrong little buddy? What are you so scared of?” He looked up at me with his giant eyes, and in a soft, timid voice, he told me he was worried that if he put himself out there, people might laugh, or worse yet, they might know he was weird. I finished swallowing that giant scoop of ice cream, looked down at him for a long time, and as my brain freeze cleared, I realized, All this little guy needs is a hug.
The hug I gave him ended up being 136 pages and made of paper. It’s called Rumple Buttercup, and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed finding it at the bottom of that reflective bowl.
Rumple Buttercup was handwritten and refined in a series of very old leather journals I found in the basement of a European bookstore (and one green one I bought at OfficeMax). I wrote every word by hand and colored it by smudging pastels with a wet pinky finger. I have zero concept of time, so I don’t know how long it took me, but I do know I smiled every step of the way. I hope after you read it you think, Hey, I want to make a book, and then I hope you let me read it.
Here is a peek at some of the earliest notes, concepts, and drafts that would later evolve into Rumple Buttercup: A Story of Bananas, Belonging, and Being Yourself.
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