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BOOK REVIEWS

RUMPLE BUTTERCUP by Matthew Gray Gubler

Rumple Buttercup is delightful in its simplicity of story and structure and depth of message. The description of this book is absolutely accurate: Rumple thinks of himself as ‘weird,’ and as such lives in isolation. He is afraid to leave his below-ground dwelling for fear that others will make fun of him, run away or even physically hurt him because he’s ‘weird.’

Hidden, Rumple watches life above ground and feels lonely. On his favorite day of the year–The Annual Pajama Jam Cotton Candy Pancake Parade–Rumple does dare to venture out of his drain, disguised by a banana peel on his head. When the long-awaited day arrives, Rumple is devastated when he cannot locate a banana peel for his disguise. He resigns himself to missing this special day until he hears a voice speaking to him from outside the storm drain.

Rumple learns that his ‘disguise’ has never really hidden him from anyone. With the gentle help of some new friends Rumple realizes that we are all different, we are all ‘weird.’ It was never the traits he thought of as ‘weird’ that kept him isolated; it was his fear of others’ judgment. With this new insight comes a glorious freedom and countless opportunities for friendship and joy.

Sweetly written with early-childhood-style drawings Rumple Buttercup is the perfect story to share with young children. It is a brilliant read-aloud for youngsters who struggle with self-image and confidence as well as their peers who perhaps struggle less but benefit greatly by developing empathy for those who do.

I’m glad I read this before I looked carefully at who the author is. Matthew Gray Gubler is an actor/director on CBS’ Criminal Minds. I tend to stay away from books written by celebrities; I am never sure whether they actually have the inspiration and talent to create a magnificent story or if they are simply trying to capitalize on their celebrity status in a monetary or egotistical way. (Too often it is the latter and I don’t have time in my reading life for that.) Rumple Buttercup is a fantastic example of a true artist crafting a story that is an instantly enjoyable narrative while simultaneously affirming an individual’s courage to believe in himself. Young readers will find themselves engaged in and excited about Rumple’s journey. I look forward to more contributions to children’s literature from Gubler.

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