It doesn’t seem that long ago that we were sweating out the doggiest dog days of summer. But summer does turn to fall. And, eventually, fall always gives way to winter. It’s the order of things. It’s just the way it happens. My third middle grade novel was released recently. WINTERFROST (Candlewick Press) is a tale that ruminated for more than 20 years in this author’s brain. It has its origins in Danish folklore and modern tradition. It comes from stories told to me as a young American visitor to an enchanted Scandinavian county and from pictures and legends sent across oceans for many years to follow.
Here’s the folklore: On Christmas Eve, it is customary, required even, to set a steaming bowl of rice pudding in the barn for the nisse, a small gnome-like being who resides on the Danish farm, looking after the animals and the family. Humble servants, nisse require very little to be happy. The rice pudding is enough.
My friend sent me this picture a few years ago.
And the book is the result.
In WINTERFROST, Bettina’s parents are suddenly called away on Christmas Eve. It’s a bit chaotic and important traditions are forgotten – including the rice pudding for the nisse. When the frosty air settles, Bettina is feeling quite proud of herself and the way she has taken care of her younger sister and the farm chores in her parents’ absence. It appears all is well on the sleepy island of Lolland. But, when baby Pia disappears during an afternoon nap, everything changes.
I hope many young readers will follow Bettina into the forest as she searches for her baby sister in a blur of frost and leaves and roots and cider in a world she barely believes exists.
And, I hope aspiring writers will follow me to a place where we sit ourselves down, roll up our sleeves, and answer those unanswered “what ifs.”
Because the worst question I can think of is “What if we didn’t tell the tales that knock on our hearts and beg to be told? What if…?”
Candlewick has kindly agreed to send a free copy of WINTERFROST to one of my lucky followers. Must live in the US to win. Enter below: