A Christmas Tree for Pyn by Olivier Dunrea
Little Pyn dreams of having a Christmas tree of their own, but her gruff Papa (who insists that she call him Oother) refuses to have one. While her father works outside in the woods all day, Pyn tidies up the house. Through it all, she thinks about a Christmas tree. When Oother continues to say no to a tree, Pyn decides to handle matters herself. She waits until her father heads out to work and then dresses herself in warm clothes and takes a small hatchet along with her. But before she gets far at all, she is up to her waist in snow with more tumbled down and burying her. Oother rescues her at once, sweeping her up onto his shoulders. Together the two of them find the perfect tree and bring it home, where Pyn decorates it with all sorts of natural treasures she has saved. Oother too has something to add to the tree, that speaks to the memory of Pyn’s mother.
Dunrea has managed to create a gruff bear of a father who has trouble expressing his love for his tiny daughter, but that children will understand easily. There is a palpable love between the two characters though both have trouble voicing it. It is the warmth in the story, the glue of their small family. Towards the end of the book, the sorrow of the loss of Pyn’s mother is tangible too. It is almost achingly there, a physical presence that explains the strained relationship and the reason a Christmas tree is vitally important to them both.
Dunrea’s art is beautifully done with his signature white backgrounds upon which his characters build their lives. The book is filled with small touches that show the snugness and warmth of their home. The huge stone fireplace, the cozy slippers, and the steam rising from pots and bowls. It all creates a family and home.
This book speaks to the heart of the Christmas season, where families grow closer, memories are shared, and a tree becomes more than it could ever seem to be. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from copy received from Penguin Young Readers Group.