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Children’s book inspires hope

Denna Hays, left, and Jenn Spryn celebrate the release of “Denna's Dream” at the Children's Advocacy Center of Butler County on July 28 . Spryn, the creator of the book, drew on the center’s volunteers, including Hays, as inspiration for her characters. Submitted Photo
Advocacy and art

Jenn Spryn has molded a universe of magic, wonder and hope that was created inside the medical room at the Children’s Advocacy Center of Butler County.

What started as a playful and imaginative landscape for children has spawned a universe based on the center’s volunteers, children and a message of hope.

“I think metaphorically it’s reflective of what the advocacy center really is doing on a daily basis,” said Tyrone Smith, on whom the character Tyrone the Dragonfly is based. “There has been a continued commitment and investment to kids in the community.”

On July 28, the Children’s Advocacy Center of Butler County celebrated the release of Spryn’s new children’s book “Denna’s Dream,” about the quest of Denna the Fox and her friends to love and support Perry the Sloth. The book is filled with illustrations, stickers and puzzles with the theme of providing hope to children.

Denna Hays, the founding executive director of the center, is the inspiration for the main character, a creatively purposeful and cleverly resourceful fox that has a dream of fixing a dark and lonely island.

“It’s emotional to be there for the first book and to see everything come together,” Hays said. “This is really for the children and the families, and I hope that it makes them feel good, loved, safe and supported.“

When the children’s center was gifted a new facility in September 2020, Hays remodeled the building with the idea of making it a comforting place for children.

Spryn, an artist who specializes in oil painting, was put in charge of creating a papier-mache tree for children to look at during medical exams. With more than 300 hours invested in the project, Spryn created a universe, with animals finding comfort in the tree, to represent the many volunteers and specialists at the center.

“I made these little caves and little openings in the tree to provide shelter to these little animals,” Spryn said. “I wanted it to be something that children would look at and just feel comfortable.”

While she was creating Paul the Toucan, modeled after a fellow volunteer artist, Spryn came up with the idea for the children’s book.

“I started to think,” Spryn said, “the toucan has a bill full of colors like a painter’s palette, just like Paul who is painting right now. And I started to come up with this idea for a children’s story that could go along with the tree.”

And from there Denna the Fox and her furry friends were born.

A copy of “Denna’s Dream” will be given to every child who goes through the center, with the idea that the book will create a familiar and comforting sight for children who may have to go through the medical center.

“The kids can take the magic home with them,” Hays said. “The creative place can go with them.”

Any money made from the sale of the book will go to support the Children’s Advocacy Center.

Tyrone Smith points to a builder dragonfly, the character he inspired for Jenn Spryn's children's book “Denna's Dream” in July at the Children's Advocacy Center of Butler County. Submitted Photo

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