I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Winterfrost by Michelle Houts
Published by Candlewick Press on September 9th 2014
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An ordinary Danish Christmas turns extraordinary when a family overlooks an important folkloric tradition.
Christmas has come, and with it a sparkling white winterfrost over the countryside. But twelve-year-old Bettina’s parents have been called away unexpectedly, leaving her in charge of the house, the farm, and baby Pia. In all the confusion, Bettina’s family neglects to set out the traditional bowl of Christmas rice pudding for the tiny nisse who are rumored to look after the family and their livestock. No one besides her grandfather ever believed the nisse were real, so what harm could there be in forgetting this silly custom? But when baby Pia disappears during a nap, the magic of the nisse makes itself known. To find her sister and set things right, Bettina must venture into the miniature world of these usually helpful, but sometimes mischievous folk. A delightful winter adventure for lovers of the legendary and miraculous.
Winterfrost made me want winter, especially full of nisse’s and Danish countrysides. I am actually partial Danish, a country I would love to visit someday. I even went to a language camp in high school to learn some Danish, it never stuck, but it was a lot of fun. So, my connection with the setting hit right away and I fell in love with this book. I wish it was later in fall, there was many mentions of cider and I am now dying to get my hands on some.
So, the story focuses on Bettina, a 12 year old girl who has been left in charge of her baby sister while her parents go off in an emergency on Christmas. Unfortunately, this means that her father forgot to leave their barn nisse his rice pudding, which puts him a bit of a mischievous mood. Bettina doesn’t quite believe about nisses anymore, but when her baby sister disappears and the barn is all jumbled up, she knows something is wrong.
She finds herself in the midst of a nisse disagreement, her sister begin stole from her barn nisse by a previous nisse who lost his post due to negligence of her family. Each nisse is assigned a family and they can be fickle creatures who are offended when not taken care of. Her nisse is young in nisse standards and is the cause for a lot of the dramatic happens while Bettina is left in charge.
I loved this story and it’s perfect Christmas story that introduces a type of mythical creature I have not seen much of in literature, but maybe would liken a nisse to a brownie. I loved the characters, the adventure and the setting. The only thing that may put off readers is some of the terminology for parents and grandparents that is used. I picked up on it right away, but I’m Danish and used to these terms.
A fantasy adventure in a unique setting of Denmark, full of great messages and also a quick read.