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Norfolk/Wrentham - Local Town Pages

Local Deacon Pens Children’s Book

Deacon Ron Tibbetts has written his first children’s book.

By Grace Allen

Norfolk resident Ron Tibbetts is a deacon in the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts. He’s now a children’s book author, too. His book, “The Whimsical Adventures of Marvin,” is a collection of short stories about a 4-year-old rhinoceros named Marvin. The stories take place during the time of the birth of Jesus Christ and offer hope to readers of all ages.

Tibbetts, 70, has been active in the battle against substance abuse disorder and is one of the people behind the #2069 movement. For many years he was also the director of Neighborhood Action, an outreach program in Boston for poor and homeless people.

He agreed to answer some questions about his book for readers of Local Town Pages.

Did your work with marginalized people inspire this book?

Nothing about the book is accidental. Growing up in a small town like Norfolk, poverty, addiction, and homelessness were never part of the conversation. We may not have been rich, but we were not the kind of poor you see in the cities. When I worked in Boston, I discovered there were two types of people living on the streets: some who had grown hopeless and those who remained hopeful. And the hopeful had a dream that things could get better. They believed in better. Later, when I served at Trinity Church in Wrentham and started the #2069 movement, I saw again, in suburban folks, that those who navigated their addiction with the courage and certainty that they could overcome it were those who had the ability and hope to imagine things being different.

Tell us about Marvin. Is he based on anyone?

I was serving at the All Saints Episcopal Church in Attleboro and it was Christmas time. We were getting ready to start the children’s procession to fill the creche at the front of the church, populating it with the sheep and the camels and all the things that might be in a manger. I looked in this little basket and I saw a small plastic rhinoceros. I picked it up and looked at the priest, and she shrugged her shoulders and said, “Why not?” So we brought the rhinoceros to the manger and I turned around and said to the congregation, “I want to introduce you to Marvin.” And that was the beginning of the story. 

It seems like the target audience for the book isn’t just children. What would you like readers to take away from these stories?

These are children’s stories for adults too. My background is Christian; therefore, my frame of reference is around Christian teaching. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus says it’s easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for the rich to get into heaven. But he doesn’t say it’s impossible. Jesus goes on to say that with man, these things are impossible but with God all things are possible. So I am grounded in that belief, that things we think are impossible in this world—enough food for all, housing, education—it’s all possible, with hope and with God. So the real takeaway would be to never let somebody tell you something is impossible. 

This is actually your second book.

Yes. I wrote a book in 2006 called “One Point of View,” and that was a series of essays, poems, and reflections, mostly on what my work with the marginalized community had taught me.

Is there anything else you’d like readers to know?

In our life together, my wife Vicky and I have faced some real health and financial challenges, challenges that are not uncommon in this world. But it’s been imagination and belief in the possibilities that have served us well and kept us together and working together, and now enjoying time with our children and our 10 grandchildren.

Where can people buy your book?

“The Whimsical Adventures of Marvin” is available at Barnes and Noble and Amazon, in hardcopy, paperback, and eBook form.