Little Pyn lives in a cottage on top of a mountain with her cranky giant of a father, who doesn’t want to celebrate Christmas—or raise a daughter by himself, either.
In this odd but touching Christmas story, Pyn keeps house for her father and tries to please him with tasty food and a tidy home. Her father refuses to be called “papa,” repeating that his name is Oother. Readers learn early in the story that Oother has lost his wife, with a subtle glimpse into his troubled thoughts (“how very like her mother she is”). After a search in the snowy forest, Pyn acquires her first Christmas tree, which she decorates with birds’ nests and feathers, and Oother gives her a bird ornament that he made for Pyn’s mother long ago. The sight of the decorated tree brings father and daughter closer, with Oother finally telling his child to call him “papa” and calling her “daughter” as he tucks her into bed. Minimalist illustrations in gouache and ink show the two characters in profile against stark, white backgrounds that suggest the frozen emotional environment in the home.
The tale of Pyn and her father has psychological ties to the story of Heidi and her grandfather, with a similar theme of the love of a little girl cracking open a crusty heart. (Picture book. 4-8)