It’s not an ordinary Christmas on the Larson farm in Denmark. Bettina’s parents are called away to care for other relatives, so twelve-year-old Bettina is given the responsibility of taking care of the farm and her baby sister Pia for a few days. Bettina feels she’s up for the task and proud to help her family.
There’s just one tradition the family forgot in the chaos—putting out a bowl of rice pudding for their barn nisse (gnome-like person). Not many people still believed in nisse, “but the young and wise knew differently.” Bettina’s beloved grandfather (who passed a year earlier) believed and he never forgot this tradition.
Klakke, a young nisse assigned to help care for the Larson family and their farm, knew something was different this Christmas. Even so, he couldn’t get over the family forgetting his Christmas gift. Feeling neglected, Klakke becomes mischieveious and makes a big mistake that turns into a big problem for his entire nisse family.
Bettina had done everything right—everything she was supposed to do—but now she must go out into the winterfrost to find baby Pia. She discovers the nisse family who are naturally embarrassed by the trouble Klakke has caused as well as old family disagreement that has come to light. Bettina must adventure into the nisse world and together they work to make things right again.
Winterfrost is a warm and wonderful story that demonstrates how pride can be productive, but too much can be destructive. The story has a very rhythmic quality that makes it a terrific read-aloud and it might just become a Christmas classic. After all, “the most mysterious of events occur during the winter frost.”