Friend Friday

Michelle Houts is one amazing person and one amazing writer. We shared an editor many moons ago and got to meet face-to-face when I visited Ohio a few years back; it felt like we’d known each other forever. I’ve been so tickled to see her career flourish; though the post below is about her book Winterfrost, please don’t miss her other new release, Kammie on First: Baseball’s Dottie Kamenshek.
Michelle Houts

What do you believe in? Are you one of those “seeing is believing” people? Or is it easy for you to believe in that which you cannot see?

Faries.  Ghosts.  Miracles. Angels. Nisse?

When I lived in Denmark a long time ago, I heard wonderful tales of tiny gnomes, called nisse. While the nisse inhabit the Danish farms and forests year-round, they are quite celebrated during the holidays. On Christmas Eve, they are always remembered with a steaming bowl of rice pudding left for their enjoyment. And, for this simple kindness, the nisse will remain loyal all year, quietly looking after the animals of the farm or the forest.

When a writer hears such a story, she almost always asks, “What if?”

What if a family forgets the rice pudding? What if the neglected nisse became unhappy?

In Winterfrost, my newest middle-grade novel, Bettina must contemplate what she believes when her family’s Christmas Eve dinner is interrupted and important traditions are forgotten. Within hours, nothing is as it should be. Her parents are gone, everything in the barn is in chaos, and Bettina’s baby sister is missing. Bettina had once believed in nisse. When she was younger. But most of the adults in her life had long denied their existence. Except Farfar, Bettina’s beloved grandfather. But Farfar was no longer around to help Bettina sort out the mess she’d created.

As Bettina finds herself in the middle of an amazing winter adventure, she’s asked to believe in things she’d never thought possible. She learns that often faith and trust walk hand-in-hand with believing. And she chooses to believe in hopes of finding her baby sister and bringing her safely home.

So, what do you believe in?

Faries.  Ghosts.  Miracles.  Angels.  Nisse?

In the end, believing isn’t always seeing, hearing, or touching. Sometimes it’s not even knowing. In the end, it’s choosing. Like Bettina, sometimes we must choose to believe in that which we cannot see, hear, or touch.

And, very often, those choices lead us to the most wonderful places.

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 on a farm in Ohio. She is the author of four books for middle-grade readers. Visit Michelle here.

No Responses to “Friend Friday”

  1. Rosi

    This sounds like such a lovely story. Thanks for telling me about it. I will definitely be checking it out.