ARC provided by Candlewick Press through Netgalley
“The forests are full of tales unheard, if only humans would pause their busyness to listen.”
The inhabitants of the Larsen Farm are getting ready for Christmas: lighted candles hang from the tree's boughs, nisse figurines line the mantle, and the house is filled with the scent of kringle, wood smoke, and the duck roasting in the oven.
...Until a phone call whisks Bettina's parents away, leaving her in charge of the farm, her baby sister Pia... and the forgotten nisse living in the barn.
Nisse are little creatures with a red pointy cap and a tendency for mischief if not appeased with a bowl of porridge on Christmas Eve. What with all the
confusion of Bettina's parents leaving and her being left in charge, this Christmas Eve the Larsen Farm's nisse, Klakke, was left porridgeless.
This was already a rough Christmas for Bettina, being the first without her grandfather, leaving her disillusioned and struggling to get into the Christmas spirit. The last thing she needs is a mischievous nisse causing trouble!
As soon as Bettina awakes the next day she sees everything outside covered in winterfrost, which her grandfather had assured her was a magical doorway into another world.
But in the midst of this Christmas wonderland a disgruntled Klakke steals Pia into the forest, and Bettina must get her little sister back!
Bettina is a delightful protagonist. She doesn't lose time in self-pity when faced with setbacks. She takes responsibility seriously and, when faced with adversity, she sets to work to solve her problems.
This is very much a book that plays with the trope of adult fear. Any child reading this is bound to be entertained without so much as a spectre of a worry. Any adult will be horrified by the idea of a twelve year old abandoned by her parents on a farm, in charge of her baby sister, and the farm animals, ALL BY HERSELF.
But it's such a delightful book! It really brings to life the magic of Christmas! Any child is bound to love it, and since its publication is scheduled for September it's sure to make a lovely Christmas gift!
Michelle Houts' official site
@ The Book Depository (with free worlwide delivery!)