Best known for his longtime role as Dr. Spencer Reid on Criminal Minds, Matthew Gray Gubler is also a filmmaker, painter, and, as of 2019, a published author. His hand lettered and illustrated fable about a lonely, self-conscious monster, Rumple Buttercup: A Story of Bananas, Belonging, and Being Yourself, was a bestseller.
On September 26, Gubler returns with The Little Kid with the Big Green Hand, created in the same handmade style as its predecessor. “It’s about two unlikely friends named Chuck and Lenore who go on a dreamlike adventure and discover the magic of seeing the world through each other’s eyes,” Gubler says. “You could sum it up as a 224-page reminder of the love that exists in everything and everyone. It’s my watercolor manifesto. And like all good manifestos, it has a confused wiener dog and a sunbathing worm.”
Little Kid, the inaugural title from Gubler’s Pumpkin Patch Press, marks the beginning of Gubler’s relationship with Abrams, which is releasing the book under its Amulet imprint. Gubler will conceive and create books within Pumpkin Patch Press in collaboration with the Abrams editorial, production, sales, and marketing teams. “Working in cahoots with Abrams Books has been wonderful,” he says. “We share a deep love and appreciation for meticulous details and want to spoil readers with the most beautifully crafted books imaginable—the kind of things you want to pass on to future generations, or at least use as a colorful coaster.” Little Kid, he notes, “is bound in the most gorgeous green cloth you have ever seen. It feels like the book is wearing a sweater made by your grandma.”
Gubler is at home in this new nook of his artistic world, even as he questions the label. “I take it as a great compliment that people think of me as a children’s book writer,” he says. “But I’ve never really thought of my books as kids’ books; they’re less ‘books for young readers’ and more ‘books for young hearts.’ ” This is especially true, he says, for Little Kid. “Kids already know the message. It’s the adults who may have forgotten it. So this one’s for kids to read to their parents.”
Looking ahead, he says, a new Rumple Buttercup book is one of several forthcoming projects. “I’ve been getting ready to direct a movie, making stuffed creatures, and working on a 2,000-pound surprise for The Little Kid with the Big Green Hand book tour that will either be the best thing you’ve ever seen or the stupidest thing you’ve ever seen. Either way, I couldn’t be more excited.” His 3.4 million Instagram followers likely feel the same way.
Matthew Gray Gubler will deliver the closing children’s and YA keynote on Wednesday, May 24, 4:30–5 p.m.