Book features Merble the bumslug finding unique purpose in life

Mattie Kennedy doesn’t seem like the kind of person who would write a children’s book.

Now a family physician, Kennedy began his education at the University of Ottawa in human kinetics before completing a master’s degree in biomechanics and continuing on to attend medical school.

But you don’t need to talk to him long before you recognize his passion for philosophy, art, and the humanities—all essential for a great author.

Kennedy’s first book, Merbles, centres on Merble the Bumslug—an inept individual, sidelined by his peers in their underground desert society. At the onset of the story Merble is exiled because of scarce resources and his inability to contribute to the group. With the help of another misfit he discovers his unique ability to turn apricots into life-creating manure. His newfound talents transform their desert into an oasis and Merble is welcomed back in the community.

The book champions the unique talents that everyone has and asks readers to see the inherent value in all life, even in the most marginalized groups in society.

Kennedy drew inspiration from his experiences working with foster children as a family physician and from his own personal religious philosophies.

“In fostering, we see a lot of people who are underprivileged and who nobody has faith in,” Kennedy said. According to Kennedy, Merble mirrors these youth and is mentored by an understanding and patient mother figure.

“But by putting faith in (Merble) through his transformation he ends up saving this community.”

Although the book is aimed at children, Kennedy feels that its lessons can be applied to many of the issues we grapple with as adults. The idea that that certain skill sets are often seen as more worthy or noble than others force learners to compartmentalize and specialize—despite the benefits of a more well rounded education.

“You do have to pick between going into an arts degree or a science degree and I think it’s unfortunate that’s the way it is,” Kennedy explained. “My artistic mind, my humanities side, my awe of the arts was complemented and strengthened when I was learning about the human body.”

Kennedy painted all of the illustrations seen throughout the book in his backyard studio. It’s a hobby that he feels allows him to destress from a highly regimented life as a medical professional.

Merbles is having a book launch Oct. 7 a at 65 Denzil Doyle Court, Kanata from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. The event will have with free food, drink, and child-friendly activities.