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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.
About the Author
Michelle Houts fell in love with the nisse folk more than twenty years ago while living in Denmark, where she became fascinated with their tales of mischief and fun. Her Danish friends continue to share nisse stories and an occasional sighting. Michelle Houts lives in west central Ohio.
Narrated in a comfortingly authoritative voice that is reminiscent of storytelling around a winter’s hearth, this folkloric tale is rich with depth and tradition and full of a child’s wonder of the natural world. ... A timeless story that upholds and nurtures the magical worlds of nature and childhood.
Children with a fascination for all things cute and tiny will delight in the cozy details of nisse household life, with its acorn cups and thistledown stockings. At the same time, they will appreciate Bettina’s struggle to cope with very adult responsibilities. A gentle holiday adventure with a quiet message of courage and responsibility.
—School Library Journal
A sweet but suspenseful story... The plot comes together as Bettina bravely searches for her sister in the sparkling wilderness, which seems to be under some sort of winter spell.
Readers will enjoy this benevolent Christmastime adventure inspired by Danish folklore.
—The Horn Book
Simple and sweet, this contempo- rary fairy tale uses straightforward prose and measured pacing to tell a story both slightly otherworldly and utterly accessible. Bettina is calm, rational, and brave, an admirable ... heroine, and Houts paints the nisse with humor and whimsy. Charming and guileless, this story of adventure and enchantment would work well for a young fairy-tale aficionado or as a classroom readaloud in those restless days just before winter break.
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Houts’s descriptions of the glistening weather phenomenon of winterfrost heighten the air of wonder in the story. The mix of fantasy, legend, and holiday tradition makes for a heady, escapist read.
Written in the folkloric language and style of old tales, young readers will enjoy the tiny lives of the nisse and appreciate the spunk and courage displayed by Bettina as she solves the problem of the troublesome Klaaka.
—Reading Today Online
This magical adventure leads you into a winter-frost world of Danish folklore and family love.
—The Buffalo News