Mary Mapes Dodge created an instant bestseller with “Hans Brinker or The Silver Skates.” She wanted the book to be partly a book of travels and partly a domestic story. It is a tale written for children that adults also find interesting and uplifting. Dodge writes as if she is sending a series of letters from Holland to children in America, and her you-are-there perspective is aided by a nice attention to detail and vivid imagery.
The Brinkers are a poor but stoic family under a dark cloud – Raff, the man of the house, fell from the dikes while reinforcing them during a bad storm, and for ten years he has been in a vegetative state. With no steady income, the family's lot is grinding poverty. Despite their unfortunate circumstances, Hans and Gretel are cheerful children, yet always attentive to the needs of their mother and their present-but-not-really-there father. Their social standing is very low, but they both attract firm friends, even among the gentry, for their honesty, industry, and good-heartedness.
Then a glorious skating race is proposed for the town of Broek, with the prize a pair of silver skates for both the winning boy and girl. In the weeks leading up to the race, we follow the adventures of five of the local boys who are showing a visiting relative from England the sights of the Netherlands. Hans improbably meets the one man who might be able to heal his father, and somehow Hans finds a way to afford some skates so that he and Gretel can enter the race.
This all leads up to a dramatic, moving, and entirely satisfactory conclusion. “Hans Brinker” hits a series of high notes and encourages children to cultivate and display their finer qualities.
OR THE SILVER SKATES
By Mary Mapes Dodge
To my father James J. Mapes this book is dedicated in gratitude and love
This little work aims to combine the instructive features of a book of travels with the interest of a domestic tale. Throughout its pages the descriptions of Dutch localities, customs, and general characteristics have been given with scrupulous care. Many of its incidents are drawn from life, and the story of Raff Brinker is founded strictly upon fact.
While acknowledging my obligations to many well known writers on Dutch history, literature, and art, I turn with especial gratitude to those kind Holland friends who, with generous zeal, have taken many a backward glance at their country for my sake, seeing it as it looked twenty years ago, when the Brinker home stood unnoticed in sunlight and shadow.
Should this simple narrative serve to give my young readers a just idea of Holland and its resources, or present true pictures of its inhabitants and their every day life, or free them from certain current prejudices concerning that noble and enterprising people, the leading desire in writing it will have been satisfied... Continue reading book >>Mary Mapes Dodge created an instant bestseller with “Hans Brinker or The Silver Skates.” She wanted the book to be partly a book of travels and partly a domestic story. It is a tale written for children that adults also find interesting and uplifting. Dodge writes as if she is sending a series of letters from Holland to children in America, and her you-are-there perspective is aided by a nice attention to detail and vivid imagery.
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