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Hans Brinker, or the Silver Skates

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"Gretel looked at her mother in troubled silence, wondering whether it were very wicked to care more for one parent than for the other-and sure, yes, quite sure, that she dreaded her father, while she clung to her mother with a love that was almost idolatry." from Hans Brinker A beloved childhood favorite for a century and a half-and a book that readers continue to enjoy a "Gretel looked at her mother in troubled silence, wondering whether it were very wicked to care more for one parent than for the other-and sure, yes, quite sure, that she dreaded her father, while she clung to her mother with a love that was almost idolatry." from Hans Brinker A beloved childhood favorite for a century and a half-and a book that readers continue to enjoy and appreciate long into adulthood. Hans Brinker, or The Silver Skates went through more than 100 editions during the author's lifetime alone. First published in 1865, this replica of the 1917 edition features the exquisite illustrations by Alice Carsey, whose sensitive eye and delicate pen-and-ink lines enliven the tale of the poor but virtuous Dutch boy in a way that few other artists have achieved. This replica edition brings the enchanting work of Dodge and Carsey to a new generation of children. Author and editor Mary Mapes Dodge (1831-1905) was born in New York City. She served as editor of the children's magazine St. Nicholas, to which she attracted such writers as Mark Twain, Louisa May Alcott, Robert Louis Stevenson, Frances Hodgson Burnett, and Rudyard Kipling. She also authored the short-fiction collection Irvington Stories (1864).


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"Gretel looked at her mother in troubled silence, wondering whether it were very wicked to care more for one parent than for the other-and sure, yes, quite sure, that she dreaded her father, while she clung to her mother with a love that was almost idolatry." from Hans Brinker A beloved childhood favorite for a century and a half-and a book that readers continue to enjoy a "Gretel looked at her mother in troubled silence, wondering whether it were very wicked to care more for one parent than for the other-and sure, yes, quite sure, that she dreaded her father, while she clung to her mother with a love that was almost idolatry." from Hans Brinker A beloved childhood favorite for a century and a half-and a book that readers continue to enjoy and appreciate long into adulthood. Hans Brinker, or The Silver Skates went through more than 100 editions during the author's lifetime alone. First published in 1865, this replica of the 1917 edition features the exquisite illustrations by Alice Carsey, whose sensitive eye and delicate pen-and-ink lines enliven the tale of the poor but virtuous Dutch boy in a way that few other artists have achieved. This replica edition brings the enchanting work of Dodge and Carsey to a new generation of children. Author and editor Mary Mapes Dodge (1831-1905) was born in New York City. She served as editor of the children's magazine St. Nicholas, to which she attracted such writers as Mark Twain, Louisa May Alcott, Robert Louis Stevenson, Frances Hodgson Burnett, and Rudyard Kipling. She also authored the short-fiction collection Irvington Stories (1864).

30 review for Hans Brinker, or the Silver Skates

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    What a delightful book this is. I am generally disappointed by children’s books, but Mary Mapes Dodge did not talk down to her audience, and as a result the read is enjoyable, even for an adult. Interestingly enough, I had thought this book was written by a Hollander, but it was written by an American. She obviously wanted her young readers to learn something about a nation that she so clearly admired, so she included a great deal of history, descriptions of customs and well-drawn images of the What a delightful book this is. I am generally disappointed by children’s books, but Mary Mapes Dodge did not talk down to her audience, and as a result the read is enjoyable, even for an adult. Interestingly enough, I had thought this book was written by a Hollander, but it was written by an American. She obviously wanted her young readers to learn something about a nation that she so clearly admired, so she included a great deal of history, descriptions of customs and well-drawn images of the countryside and the cities. The history was interwoven into the story as a group of boys showed off their land to a visiting English lad. It was done deftly, so that you could learn a great deal without feeling you had just sat through a lecture, and it did not subtract from, but rather added to, the boy’s adventures. The story at the heart of the book, a tale of a poor but proud family with a seriously ailing father and a race in which the two children, Gretel and Hans compete to win a pair of silver skates, was nothing like the idea that I had harbored over the years. I never read the book as a child, so somewhere along the way I had adopted an erroneous idea of the plot. The actual story was much more complex and far more interesting than the one had imagined. I’m sure modern children might find this a little old-fashioned, but it was sweet, had a good moral purpose, and would make a worthwhile read for them all the same.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Werner

    Mary Mapes Dodge (1831-1905) was, at the time she wrote this novel, a widowed mom who'd moved back in with her well-to-do family after the death of her financially-embarrassed husband. Herself well educated by private tutors, she originally began to write educational short stories for her own kids; this led to publishing a volume of them, and the success of that book prompted calls for a novel. This book, published in 1865 and set in Holland "long ago" (when I first read it, I surmised from the Mary Mapes Dodge (1831-1905) was, at the time she wrote this novel, a widowed mom who'd moved back in with her well-to-do family after the death of her financially-embarrassed husband. Herself well educated by private tutors, she originally began to write educational short stories for her own kids; this led to publishing a volume of them, and the success of that book prompted calls for a novel. This book, published in 1865 and set in Holland "long ago" (when I first read it, I surmised from the content that it was probably set in the 1840s, which would be "long ago" to elementary school kids in 1865), was the result. Part of her purpose in writing it, beyond telling an engaging story, was to educate her youthful readers about Dutch history and culture --it's a "multicultural" book before that concept was a buzzword. (Interestingly, Dodge herself had never traveled outside the U.S.; she got her interest in Holland, and much of her information, from two then-popular books on Dutch history by John Lothrop Motley.) I've read this book twice, once as a kid, and again to my wife as an adult; both of us liked it. (1986 is a rough guess as to the date for the second read.) Reaction to it from the three people in my friend circle who've reviewed it varied sharply; two gave it four stars and one didn't finish it. The latter was put off by the material on Dutch history, and by the "chatty" style --that is to say, like some other older authors, Dodge will breach the so-called "fourth wall" at times and address the reader directly. Modern literary critics deem this a stylistic no-no. 19th-century critics didn't, and I'm inclined to agree with their freer approach; if a writer has reason for it and can pull it off smoothly, without overusing it, I'm okay with the device. I didn't find it off-putting here. In keeping with the author's intent, the book packs a lot of historical, geographic and cultural information; in the main, this is integrated pretty naturally into the narrative, but some of the history can have an "info-dumpy" quality. Even when it did, though, I found it fascinating enough that it didn't take me out of the story (of course, I'm a history major!). For me, the exposure to Dutch historical anecdotes and folkways was actually a strength of the book. Published at the chronological dividing line between what literary scholars would later call the Romantic and Realist periods in American literature, the novel exhibits aspects of both schools. Dodge has an interest in describing the life of her setting as realistically as any of the regionalist Realists did theirs; but she also tells a tale that's emotionally appealing, with a struggling family that engages our sympathy and concern. It's not a spoiler to say the storyline is upbeat; this isn't a dark tome of moral and existential pessimism (and I'm not among those who imagine that novels are better if they are). The author also incorporates moral examples into her writing, but this is done in a way that grows out of the events, and the writing is not ponderously didactic in the manner of a lot of 19th-century children's literature. Her diction is no more difficult nor ornate than that of most of her contemporaries, and shouldn't pose a real problem for any good reader. I didn't recommend this specifically for children, though I think modern kids who aren't put off by reading about characters who lived before their own time, and who aren't intimidated by the idea that the book was written in the 19th century, could potentially enjoy it. But there's nothing uniquely "kiddish" about it, except for the fact that the main characters are mostly kids; the children that Dodge was writing for were better educated and more mature, and had somewhat more commonality mentally with adults, than most of their modern counterparts. Some adult readers today can get into the plot (Barb and I are living proof, as are other Goodreaders!), and adult readers can certainly appreciate some of the deadpan humor, and the character development through telling details. In her own time, Dodge was one of relatively few American writers who were widely appreciated outside the U.S., and I think the appreciation was justified. As usual, my reaction to the book falls in the middle ground; but I do consider it a good, though not great, novel, and solidly like it.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    I'm reading this to decide if it gets to stay with me or not. I have a very, very bad (or maybe good) habit of buying books I haven't read because I've heard they're good. Or I want to read them. Or they're on sale. This was one such book. 'Hey, everyone has read Hans Brinker, I should too.' Thus far I'm really liking it so maybe it was a good thing I bought it (several years ago and am just now getting around to it). September 20, 2009 - I finished! Yes, it took me much longer to read than normal I'm reading this to decide if it gets to stay with me or not. I have a very, very bad (or maybe good) habit of buying books I haven't read because I've heard they're good. Or I want to read them. Or they're on sale. This was one such book. 'Hey, everyone has read Hans Brinker, I should too.' Thus far I'm really liking it so maybe it was a good thing I bought it (several years ago and am just now getting around to it). September 20, 2009 - I finished! Yes, it took me much longer to read than normal, but I only read it when I was upstairs, with nothing to do, which pretty much never happens. I really enjoyed this book. It was sweet and nice and gentle but didn't feel all girly and foofy. I think my boys will like it. You learn a lot about Holland and about history along the way. The story plot is interesting and the characters intriguing. There isn't a lot of character development, but you still get a pretty good feel for them and most of them are just such good, decent, kind people that you love them even if you don't know much about them. I think we'll read this when we study Holland. And it will get to stay with me.

  4. 5 out of 5

    GoldGato

    Luxuries unfit us for returning to hardships easily endured before. That is one of the little gems which pop up throughout this classic book of children's literature. Published in 1865, it was second only to Dickens that year in sales. Written by an American who had never been to the Netherlands before the book was written, it has, apparently, been a much-loved book handed down through the generations. Although I come from Flemish/Dutch ancestry, this book was unknown in my family, perhaps becaus Luxuries unfit us for returning to hardships easily endured before. That is one of the little gems which pop up throughout this classic book of children's literature. Published in 1865, it was second only to Dickens that year in sales. Written by an American who had never been to the Netherlands before the book was written, it has, apparently, been a much-loved book handed down through the generations. Although I come from Flemish/Dutch ancestry, this book was unknown in my family, perhaps because it is truly an American invention. Indeed, it even contains the story of the Little Boy And The Dike (not Hans Brinker), which is also a pure American legend attributed to the Dutch. Strange. Hans is a very poor boy who lives with his mother and little sister in a run-down hovel. They used to have a middle class life with a healthy father, but he fell off a dike and hurt his head. Comatose, he is of no use to the family who must rely on poor Hans for any income he can provide. The Silver Skates are the prize to be rewarded to the fastest boy and girl in the Dutch speed races on the frozen canals. Hans really wants those skates, but his love of family comes first. Although Hans Brinker is the title character, much of the book is given to the journey of a group of local well-to-do boys who skate through the towns, providing a narrative of the various Dutch museums, Dutch traditions, and Dutch food for the reader. It all eventually comes back to the little poor family and the quest for a happy ending. I really enjoyed reading this book and its various descriptions. ...we Americans, who after all are homeopathic preparations of Holland stock... AND The Dutch have always been forced to pump for their very existence and probably must continue to do so to the end of time. The frightening possibility of being flooded in the middle of the night is never forgotten here, as the tragic floods of the past are mentioned. There's also the tale of the Rasphouse, which was a cell for lazy prisoners. Into this tiny space would pour a steady stream of water and the prisoner would have to pump constantly to keep himself from drowning. Very interesting. Mostly, I loved the family spirit and the steady get-through-the-day background which also permeated my own parents. 'Little and often soon fills the pouch' was a motto for my mother, that is, don't get seduced by the fast American lifestyle, just live the simple life and save for the future. I like that. My klompen still go out every December 6th, albeit with Flemish, not Dutch, tokens. As Samuel Butler versed, A land that rides at anchor, and is moor'd In which they do not live, but go aboard. Book Season = Winter (frozen waterways)

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ilona

    This is one of the greatest books for children I've ever met. Indeed you won't meet such books nowadays, not with such a beautiful language and such good lessons to teach. I've read Hans Brinker twice. The first time was when I was 11 or 12 and it impressed me so much that till now it is the second association with Holland for me (after the tulips :)) So when this year I was searching for something to read during the Christmastime and occasionally saw the title among the list of other Christmas b This is one of the greatest books for children I've ever met. Indeed you won't meet such books nowadays, not with such a beautiful language and such good lessons to teach. I've read Hans Brinker twice. The first time was when I was 11 or 12 and it impressed me so much that till now it is the second association with Holland for me (after the tulips :)) So when this year I was searching for something to read during the Christmastime and occasionally saw the title among the list of other Christmas books on some website I had no doubts I should reread it. Now I'd like to offer a list of reasons why I believe this book to be a must-read for children in particular and for anyone else who wants to remember his\her childhood: 1. As I've already put it the language is really beautiful , but at the same time it's simple enough for children to understand. here I'd like to stress that you'll like this book much more if you have a good imagination for the innumerable descriptions are aimed to satisfy it and enable you to see everything with the eyes of your own. Here is the one I personally liked most of all: "Some one was playing upon the organ. As the boys entered, a swell of sound rushed forth to meet them. It seemed to bear them, one by one, into the shadows of the building. Louder and louder it grew until it became like the din and roar of some mighty tempest, or like the ocean surging upon the shore. In the midst of the tumult a tinkling bell was heard; another answered, then another, and the storm paused as if to listen. The bells grew bolder; they rang out loud and clear. Other deep toned bells joined in; they were tolling in solemn concert—ding, dong! ding, dong! The storm broke forth again with redoubled fury—gathering its distant thunder. The boys looked at each other, but did not speak. It was growing serious. What was that? Who screamed? What screamed—that terrible, musical scream? Was it man or demon? Or was it some monster shut up behind that carved brass frame—behind those great silver columns—some despairing monster begging, screaming for freedom? It was the Vox Humana! At last an answer came,—soft, tender, loving, like a mother's song. The storm grew silent; hidden birds sprang forth filling the air with glad, ecstatic music, rising higher and higher until the last faint note was lost in the distance. The Vox Humana was stilled; but in the glorious hymn of thanksgiving that now arose, one could almost hear the throbbing of a human heart. What did it mean? That man's imploring cry should in time be met with a deep content? That gratitude would give us freedom? To Peter and Ben it seemed that the angels were singing. Their eyes grew dim, and their souls dizzy with a strange joy. At last, as if borne upward by invisible hands, they were floating away on the music, all fatigue forgotten, and with no wish but to hear forever those beautiful sounds." 2. Strange as it may seem never having been to the Netherlands Mary Mapes Dodge created the book that made thousands of people visit this country. There are some chapters which are entirely devoted to the description of Dutch cities and way of life. Silver Skates is a real encyclopedia of Dutch culture so anyone who reads it for the first time will certainly find something new and curious for himself. 3. The plot is quite interesting if you don't mind many descriptions but this is NOT a page turner. This is a book of atmosphere so to say, you are to take delight in reading it slowly, carefully, attentively, if you want something exiting with a complicated plot structure, than leave this book for a more suitable mood. 4. And of course I can't but admit that Hans Brinker or Silver Skates is a moralistic book , but it's lessons are not boring ones, they are put not only through the words, but through the situations through the characters themselves. This book teaches children to be kind, generous, honest, to be grateful to their parents and true to their friends. I hope I've said enough to persuade ou that this work is worth reading and if not, just open the first page and the book will speak for itself.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Vegan

    I loved this book as a kid and reread it several times. It was especially enjoyable while eating Dutch chocolate shoes. ;-) This book made me fascinated with all things Holland. I still have the edition I read when I was 8 or 9.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Grace Grzy

    A wonderful tale of a close-knit family, set in the beauty of Holland. I come back to this nearly every winter! A perfect read to curl up in front of the fireplace with.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Megan Anderson

    Worst. Book. Ever. Okay, maybe not the worst, but a really boring, awful book. The actual story of Hans could be told in about fifty pages. The edition I read on Google Books was nearly three hundred pages long. I can appreciate it for the historical things--I've read enough books from this time period to know that the personalities of the Brinker children and some of the other boys are how the authors imagined children, and the "history of Holland" asides are in there to educate small children Worst. Book. Ever. Okay, maybe not the worst, but a really boring, awful book. The actual story of Hans could be told in about fifty pages. The edition I read on Google Books was nearly three hundred pages long. I can appreciate it for the historical things--I've read enough books from this time period to know that the personalities of the Brinker children and some of the other boys are how the authors imagined children, and the "history of Holland" asides are in there to educate small children back in the day--but the book was much too long and drawn-out to actually be entertaining, especially for a modern reader. I wouldn't recommend this at all. 1/5 on here, 1/10 for myself

  9. 5 out of 5

    gaudeo

    This is an old-fashioned children's book, with a story meant to encourage the development of character and Christian values in its readers. I might be frustrated with its didactic tone if it were not for the fascinating background it gives on the Netherlands. Overall, it's rather charming. This is an old-fashioned children's book, with a story meant to encourage the development of character and Christian values in its readers. I might be frustrated with its didactic tone if it were not for the fascinating background it gives on the Netherlands. Overall, it's rather charming.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Liz F.

    Fun wintry read! :)

  11. 5 out of 5

    Steve Hemmeke

    I can't believe I made it through an upbringing in Holland, Michigan as a descendant of Dutch Immigrants, without having read Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates before now. A good third of the middle of this book is a travelogue of the Netherlands, with some history thrown in. There are some classical references I had to look up, even though it's a children's story. It was written in 1865. It's full of pithy sayings, supposedly from the Dutch. My favorite was "Humble wife is husband's boss." Somet I can't believe I made it through an upbringing in Holland, Michigan as a descendant of Dutch Immigrants, without having read Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates before now. A good third of the middle of this book is a travelogue of the Netherlands, with some history thrown in. There are some classical references I had to look up, even though it's a children's story. It was written in 1865. It's full of pithy sayings, supposedly from the Dutch. My favorite was "Humble wife is husband's boss." Sometimes the wife wanted to oppose and contradict her husband, but this saying was drilled into her, so she didn't. The book popularized the story of the boy who plugs a leak in the dike with his finger all night. The main plot centers on the husband who suffered an injury and was imbecilic for ten years. The internet tells me the author based this on a true story. It is quaint and a bit too sentimental for my taste, but I don't think this is severe enough to be detrimental (note that it can be). Main characters set aside self interest and are willing to associate with the lowly. Excellent reading for the 11-15 age range.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Wes

    I quite enjoyed reading this book. It reminded me so much of Holland and at the same time produced much more to my interest. This book could now be taken to be a historical text for a lazy American (if this term is not too much redundant). Much history of Holland is laid out, some as a field trip through the countryside. This is not a challenging read but I bet that the orignal target audience of young folks will hardly touch it these days though the book is still to be found in the juvenile sec I quite enjoyed reading this book. It reminded me so much of Holland and at the same time produced much more to my interest. This book could now be taken to be a historical text for a lazy American (if this term is not too much redundant). Much history of Holland is laid out, some as a field trip through the countryside. This is not a challenging read but I bet that the orignal target audience of young folks will hardly touch it these days though the book is still to be found in the juvenile section of the library. The tale of the Brinkers is quite lively and the tale of the other inhabitants of Broek is woven into the book. There is a large section in the middle of the book that deals solely with folks other than the Brinkers and their lot. Also, pockets of history and worded paintings of the country and Dutch life are contingent. I must say that my list of places to visit in Holland has grown and Broek has been pushed up near the top of the list though only the fictional inhabitants of such seem the draw.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Janelle

    Mary Mapes Dodge tried to make a Holland sandwich with this book, and in my opinion, it's a culinary failure. Wanting to educate American children in the 1800's about life in Holland, she wrote a part fiction, part non fiction account of village children living near Amsterdam. Then she shoved it in the middle of a story about Hans Brinker and his troubled family, and added in some extra non fiction for good measure. This really spoiled the book for me. I liked Hans and his family, but I was frus Mary Mapes Dodge tried to make a Holland sandwich with this book, and in my opinion, it's a culinary failure. Wanting to educate American children in the 1800's about life in Holland, she wrote a part fiction, part non fiction account of village children living near Amsterdam. Then she shoved it in the middle of a story about Hans Brinker and his troubled family, and added in some extra non fiction for good measure. This really spoiled the book for me. I liked Hans and his family, but I was frustrated by the diversions into other plot lines, and bored by the non fiction sections. I was willing, as some reviewers suggested, to skip the non-Hans chapters, until realised that I'd be skipping half the book. So I decided not to bother.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Hope

    I usually like a two-for-the-price-of-one bargain, but in the case of Hans Brinker it just didn't work. Mary Mapes Dodge not only wanted to tell the story of the poor, but hardworking protagonist, but she also wanted to weave in many heroes and legends of Dutch history. That would have been okay if this additional information had been skillfully woven into the narrative, but most of it was tacked on, interrupting the story's flow. So why has this novel, with its burden of extraneous facts, surviv I usually like a two-for-the-price-of-one bargain, but in the case of Hans Brinker it just didn't work. Mary Mapes Dodge not only wanted to tell the story of the poor, but hardworking protagonist, but she also wanted to weave in many heroes and legends of Dutch history. That would have been okay if this additional information had been skillfully woven into the narrative, but most of it was tacked on, interrupting the story's flow. So why has this novel, with its burden of extraneous facts, survived for over 150 years? Because it's a wonderful story of family love, honest labor, and hard-won victories. It's much more than a novel about a Dutch boy's desire to win the coveted silver skates. I ended up enjoying it very much in spite of the distracting digressions.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Cynthia Egbert

    Shiloah just keeps finding books that I should have rated on here years ago. I love this book because of the memories as much as the content. My grandma read this to me a couple of times when I was a child and I do so cherish that memory.

  16. 5 out of 5

    John Yelverton

    A sad book, and an uplifting book at the same time. Well worth your time to read.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Piret

    I first read this book in 1986 and I remember having liked it a lot. I didn’t know much about The Netherlands then. I knew about the famous skaters and canals and that a big part of the country was under sea level. Now, having lived here for almost 19 years, I took it from the shelf again and was mostly curious to find out how realistic it all was. The author had not visited The Netherlands herself and based it all on other sources, and that all in 1865. I could recall the skating competition in I first read this book in 1986 and I remember having liked it a lot. I didn’t know much about The Netherlands then. I knew about the famous skaters and canals and that a big part of the country was under sea level. Now, having lived here for almost 19 years, I took it from the shelf again and was mostly curious to find out how realistic it all was. The author had not visited The Netherlands herself and based it all on other sources, and that all in 1865. I could recall the skating competition in which the winner could win the silver skates, and remembered the Brinker family, very poor, but oh so kind and friendly and helpful. But I didn’t remember that the main character, Hans Brinker, disappeared for half of the book (chapters 15-30 if I’m not mistaken) and that those pages focused on the skating trip of 6 other boys in the story, visiting Haarlem, Leiden and The Hague. I was almost disappointed and impatient for the story to return to Broek to the Brinkers. Especially the middle part is packed with references to historic figures and developments, and those descriptions might sound a bit too boring for the young reader (bearing it in mind that it is a children’s book); I found some of them too long at times, too. In The Netherlands Hans Brinker is believed to have put his finger in the dyke to prevent a huge flood. Hans Brinker in this story most definitely doesn’t do anything of the kind. In this book there is a short episode when schoolchildren in England (Ben’s sister Jenny and some others) are asked to read out loud about a nameless ‘hero of Haarlem’ who put his finger in the dyke and thereby prevented a huge flood from happening. How a myth like that about Hans Brinker has come into being I have no clue. All in all, it was nice to re-visit my childhood in this pre-Christmas week.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kelsey

    This book is about a boy named Hans Brinker, age 15, and his sister, Gretel, age 12, live in Holland in the mid-1800s. Ten years before this, their father, Raff, suffered an injury that left him hurt and useless. The children and their mother have lived in poverty ever since. They know Raff buried a big pile of mula, but he's was unable to tell them where it is. Raff also left a pricy watch with Dame Brinker just before his injury, making her promise to keep it safe. She doesn't know the point o This book is about a boy named Hans Brinker, age 15, and his sister, Gretel, age 12, live in Holland in the mid-1800s. Ten years before this, their father, Raff, suffered an injury that left him hurt and useless. The children and their mother have lived in poverty ever since. They know Raff buried a big pile of mula, but he's was unable to tell them where it is. Raff also left a pricy watch with Dame Brinker just before his injury, making her promise to keep it safe. She doesn't know the point of the promise but she has often considered selling it to feed the family. Hollanders get around in the winter by skating on the frozen canals. Hans and Gretel can't afford real skates, so they strap blocks of wood to their feet. Though many wealthier children look down on the Brinkers, especially Hilda van Gleck, Peter van Holp and Annie Bouman, they show great kindness and generosity. Hilda and Peter buy Hans' homemade necklaces so he and Gretel can afford real skates that way they don't feel poor. These people provided for the Brinkers many more times as well like really important things. The kids in this book get really excited when they hear about the upcoming skating contest. The fastest girl and the fastest boy will each win a pair of silver skates. Man those will really sparkle. If you like a nice winter book combined into a book with some good Competition. You will be dying to know the rest. I rate this book a just book ( actually i do this was perfect for me) or a holiday book ( well a little because I took place in the winter)or a hard book.... I rate this an THE MOST Coolest BOOK EVER!!!!! Get it coolest because it's cold. Hah hah hah

  19. 4 out of 5

    Thom Swennes

    A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing but misinformation can be catastrophic. This book was written for youthful readers and has been a favorite tale for many years. Starting in the year 1872 (exactly 100 years prior to my moving to Holland) the story tries to combine the social life and historic heritage of the Low Countries with a fictitious story of the Brinker family. I can still remember the pictures this tale painted in my impressionable youthful mind the first time I read it fifty y A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing but misinformation can be catastrophic. This book was written for youthful readers and has been a favorite tale for many years. Starting in the year 1872 (exactly 100 years prior to my moving to Holland) the story tries to combine the social life and historic heritage of the Low Countries with a fictitious story of the Brinker family. I can still remember the pictures this tale painted in my impressionable youthful mind the first time I read it fifty years ago. When I came to Holland to live I still vividly remember how cheated I felt at accepting literally what Mary Dodge had written in her story of 1865. The climatic conditions of the Netherlands are drastically different from what the story suggests as is the traditional celebration of St. Nickolas. This said, the story (for its own sake) is both interesting and even inspiring. I can still appreciate the fictional portions of the book but the proposed factual accounts are spurious at best.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    I can see why this story from Holland is famous in the world of children's literature, but I would be surprised if very many children I know enjoy it. Parts of the story are very interesting and the major characters, although not deeply complex, are honorable and admirable. The large sections of the book that teach about Holland's history in the form of the skating trip, however, slow down the plot considerably and would probably be too much of a detraction for most young readers. I like the val I can see why this story from Holland is famous in the world of children's literature, but I would be surprised if very many children I know enjoy it. Parts of the story are very interesting and the major characters, although not deeply complex, are honorable and admirable. The large sections of the book that teach about Holland's history in the form of the skating trip, however, slow down the plot considerably and would probably be too much of a detraction for most young readers. I like the value placed on hard work, honesty, and family loyalty, but these themes are overt enough that some might consider it too moralistic in tone. I'm glad I "read" (listened to) it, but I wouldn't strongly recommend it to most young readers.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Cindy

    would only be tolerable if abridged. I liked the story of Hans and his little family, their tragedy and their determination to get through it. But then somehow we got this group of young boys who were allowed to spend a winter holiday unsupervised with plenty of money skating all over Amsterdam, having various adventures, and delivering long tedious lessons about Dutch life and history and culture to the token English boy who makes all this slightly plausible. I SOOOOOOO didn't care. If want to would only be tolerable if abridged. I liked the story of Hans and his little family, their tragedy and their determination to get through it. But then somehow we got this group of young boys who were allowed to spend a winter holiday unsupervised with plenty of money skating all over Amsterdam, having various adventures, and delivering long tedious lessons about Dutch life and history and culture to the token English boy who makes all this slightly plausible. I SOOOOOOO didn't care. If want to read Dutch history - and I wouldn't mind, actually - I will, but if I want to read about the Brinkers, and I did when I picked up the book, TELL ME THE STORY YOU STARTED IN THE FIRST PLACE! Skipped to end, where of course, everything turned out happily ever after. So there.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Data

    This is written as a children's book, but it is for children who are serious readers! The action is a bit milder than we so often see today. The only magic is that of human compassion, the life-or-death drama is that of an ill parent, the fabulous wealth is only that of the loss of the family's savings. Of course, the great prize is the silver skates. Every chapter is packed with history. The writing style is somewhat dated, but the characters are well-drawn. Fun to go back and read as an adult, This is written as a children's book, but it is for children who are serious readers! The action is a bit milder than we so often see today. The only magic is that of human compassion, the life-or-death drama is that of an ill parent, the fabulous wealth is only that of the loss of the family's savings. Of course, the great prize is the silver skates. Every chapter is packed with history. The writing style is somewhat dated, but the characters are well-drawn. Fun to go back and read as an adult, especially if you have a little Dutch in you :)

  23. 4 out of 5

    Joy Gerbode

    Wonderful book! It is subtitled in this edition "A Story of Life in Holland" and it is absolutely wonderful reading! Beautiful descriptions of the places in Holland that were visited by boys on a skating trip along the canals. Wonderfully told history of Holland. And the heart-warming story of a family suffering difficulties yet never losing their kind hearts and willing ways. An all around wonderful story, and this is a beautiful edition I found in a used book store ...notes in the margins, eve Wonderful book! It is subtitled in this edition "A Story of Life in Holland" and it is absolutely wonderful reading! Beautiful descriptions of the places in Holland that were visited by boys on a skating trip along the canals. Wonderfully told history of Holland. And the heart-warming story of a family suffering difficulties yet never losing their kind hearts and willing ways. An all around wonderful story, and this is a beautiful edition I found in a used book store ...notes in the margins, even! Wonderful treasure!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Chrissie

    I read this as a kid. I still have the book, a hardcover from the 50s! Gray blue woth a rectangular picture of the twokids skating down the canals. This and A Dog of Flanders were how I pictured Holland. It was so strange to visit these places as an adult. In fact, A Dog of Flanders took place in Belgium's Antwerp. I read this as a kid. I still have the book, a hardcover from the 50s! Gray blue woth a rectangular picture of the twokids skating down the canals. This and A Dog of Flanders were how I pictured Holland. It was so strange to visit these places as an adult. In fact, A Dog of Flanders took place in Belgium's Antwerp.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Zee

    Wouldn't read it again nor would I read it to a child. If I wanted to have some history of Holland based on stories from certain times in history, this would be great. Otherwise, the story is in parts too much history that is dated, too much kids being super nice to other kids, and tragedy becoming unrealistic miracles all in one story. Normally, I can consider the original context and appreciate the story for what it was intended to be. This was just over the top hokey for me. Wouldn't read it again nor would I read it to a child. If I wanted to have some history of Holland based on stories from certain times in history, this would be great. Otherwise, the story is in parts too much history that is dated, too much kids being super nice to other kids, and tragedy becoming unrealistic miracles all in one story. Normally, I can consider the original context and appreciate the story for what it was intended to be. This was just over the top hokey for me.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Nick

    I was trolling my way through this one when my dog graciously destroyed it. He picked the right book at least. I could not get into this one at all...at least when I was a teenager. I might try it again if someone convinces me that should waste the last few precious moments of my life reading bland descriptions of Holland's landscape. I was trolling my way through this one when my dog graciously destroyed it. He picked the right book at least. I could not get into this one at all...at least when I was a teenager. I might try it again if someone convinces me that should waste the last few precious moments of my life reading bland descriptions of Holland's landscape.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Rogue-van (the Bookman)

    Like Dickens, Mary Mapes Dodge tells a story about children trying to survive. Hans and Gretel's father is not in his right mind and cannot work. Although the chatty style and Dutch history lessons detract, the story is very moving when it gets back on track with Hans' quests. Like Dickens, Mary Mapes Dodge tells a story about children trying to survive. Hans and Gretel's father is not in his right mind and cannot work. Although the chatty style and Dutch history lessons detract, the story is very moving when it gets back on track with Hans' quests.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Vanessa Dicesare

    I really enjoyed this story. It brought back childhood memories of my mom reading this to me on Saturday mornings in her bed. It is a disjointed story as the author adds facts about Holland, but still well worth the effort.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Calista

    AS a child, I loved this book. I read it during the winter olympics. It just fascinated me. I reread it later in life and it's more of a learning book. It's not exciting really, but I would still recommend it AS a child, I loved this book. I read it during the winter olympics. It just fascinated me. I reread it later in life and it's more of a learning book. It's not exciting really, but I would still recommend it

  30. 5 out of 5

    Meagan

    Great story! I love that it emphasizes virtue and uses a higher vocabulary than you typically see in popular children's books. I will be sending this book to my 13-year-old niece to read. And then I will plan a trip to Holland because it sounds lovely. Great story! I love that it emphasizes virtue and uses a higher vocabulary than you typically see in popular children's books. I will be sending this book to my 13-year-old niece to read. And then I will plan a trip to Holland because it sounds lovely.

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