The heroine of this retelling of the Norwegian fairy-tale East of the Sun, West of the Moon, is known simply as pika, or the lass. The youngest of nine children, she was so unwanted by her mother that she wasn't given a name. In a land cursed with never-ending winter, the lass lives with her family, including her father, a kind but poor woodcutter, her brother Hans Peter, who, greatly changed after returning from a sea voyage, carves wood all day, and her pet wolf Rollo. After catching the white reindeer, the lass is gifted with the ability to speak with animals; as her reputation with animals spreads and people seek her out for help, she is, in some ways, able to make it up to her mother for being born a girl. Then one day, during a terrible blizzard, an isbjorn (polar bear) knocks on the family's cottage with a bargain: if the lass will come with him and live with him in his palace for a year and a day, he will bring great fortune to her family. And so the lass goes with him. Once at the palace, she cannot contain her curiosity. Who built the ice palace she lives in? Who are these strange creatures waiting on her? Who is the stranger slipping into her room to sleep beside her at night? What enchantment is her isbjorn under?
The talking animals and fairly strict adherence to the original story make "Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow" more accessible for younger readers than Edith Pattou's 2005 retelling "East," which draws heavily from other Norwegian mythology, is told from multiple viewpoints, and is much longer and, in my opinion, grown-up in theme. Fans of one, however, will mostly likely enjoy the other.