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Hans Brinker or the Silver Skates

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  9,666 ratings  ·  221 reviews
From glistening ice roads to frozen canals, in a wonderland where even the richest nobles thrill to the gliding joys of winter, everyone is awaiting the fabulous race to win the magnificent Silver Skates --

Except Hans Brinker and his sister Gretel. For the Brinkers are desperately poor, friendless; with a father felled by a crippling head wound, Mother and the children mus
Paperback, 256 pages
Published December 15th 1993 by Tor Classics (first published 1865)
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Emily of New Moon by L.M. MontgomeryGone-Away Lake by Elizabeth EnrightThe Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan AikenBallet Shoes by Noel StreatfeildA Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter
Forgotten Kids Books of Quality
72nd out of 405 books — 173 voters
The Silver Chair by C.S. LewisSilver on the Tree by Susan CooperQuicksilver by Neal StephensonBy the Shores of Silver Lake by Laura Ingalls WilderHans Brinker or the Silver Skates by Mary Mapes Dodge
silver buckles on my shoe...
5th out of 76 books — 16 voters

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Community Reviews

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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
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
John Yelverton
A sad book, and an uplifting book at the same time. Well worth your time to read.
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 ...more
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
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
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.
Barbara VA
This is the 2nd time that I read this book and I loved it both times. I have read the other reviews and there is so much that I agree with as far as the family values, hard work, education and joy of hime and homeland. What i did not agree with were the comments regarding the history or the boys trips through the cities. Yes, the history is not entirely accurate, the exposure that Dodge had at the time precluded that and the book was not intended as a non-fiction history. With guidance it is a j ...more
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

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
Ένα παραμύθι από περασμένες εποχές που όμως ξεπερνά σε λόγο και πλούτο συναισθημάτων τα κακογραμμένα ως μέτρια παιδικά βιβλία τα οποία συναντά συχνότατα κανείς στις μέρες μας. Μακάρι να είχαν όλα τα παιδιά την ευκαιρία και την τύχη να διαβάζουν (!) πρώτα απ'όλα και στη συνέχεια να επιλέγουν τέτοια βιβλία οι μεγαλύτεροι για να τους προτείνουν.

Θεωρώ πως αποτελεί ένα βιβλίο απόλυτα διαχρονικό, το οποίο είναι ευκολοδιάβαστο και απευθύνεται σε κάθε ηλικία- τα παιδιά μαθαίνουν τις έννοιες της αγάπης
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,
"Finally, after a little questioning, and cross-questioning from the public prosecutor, the witnesses were dismissed, and the robber was handed over to the consideration of the criminal court.

'The scoundrel!' said Carl savagely when the boys reached the street. 'He ought to be sent to jail at once. If I had been in your place, Peter, I certainly should have killed him outright!'

'He was fortunate, then, in falling into gentler hands,' was Peter's quiet reply. 'It appears he has been arrested befo
Charming and fascinating with its snippets of Dutch history and culture. However it felt like the author had wanted to write two books, not one. It was strange to leave Hans and Gretel for so long in the middle while we went off with the other boys on their skating trip! And so it was that Gretel's triumph didn't move me as much as it might have, had we stayed with the Brinkers for more of the story.
I picked this up at a library book sale with my mom, and she asked if I was going to read it. I was like "no, I don't plan to." Under her disapproving eye I resolved to at least read a little of it. But seriously, it matches some of my other hardback young reader books so well that I would have been content to have it as "book decor."

I read the first 100 pages or so. For what it is (a book about life in the Netherlands meant for children), it is pretty good. It does have a bit of a fairytale fe
I read this book as a child but a couple of years ago I went through this phase where I dug out, or looked up, as many of my favourite books from my childhood & this was one of them. Even as I reminisce about the book I can't help smiling because it brings back many sights, sounds, & even tastes of being in Holland with my children or siblings. This story not only has an ageless to it that makes me believe it will always remain a classic. It has a moral built into the story that is subtl ...more
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.
I hadn't read this since I was a kid. I remember LOVING it as a child but I was more frustrated with it this time around. The beginning of the book and end of the book are actually about Hans Brinker and how he and his family deal with his father who was injured ten years before the story starts. That's a good story! The middle 200 pages are basically a travel log of things to do in The Netherlands from Amsterdam down to The Hague. Hans is only briefly in these 200 pages and the rest of the stor ...more
I recently saw a copy of this - in the edition that I remember as a child - while in a second hand book store. I didn't buy it, but it got me thinking. I'm sure I'd read it and vaguely thought it had been a struggle. I ended up borrowing a copy from the library to read. The memory of it being a struggle is accurate. Much of the middle third (at least) seems to be an aside of a trip that five of the village youth made during a school holiday. It doesn't seem to connect at all with any part of th ...more
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.
Една от любимите ми детски книги. Чела съм я безброй пъти! Заради нея ми купиха кънки за лед и цяла зима ходех в неделя да се пързалям:-)).
Those are memory stars. I read this over and over when I was a kid. Have no idea how many stars I'd give it now.
Nancy Burns
I so wanted to love this book but it failed to entertain me.

I would NOT recommed this book because there are so many other GOOD childrens books to read by great writers like Lewis Carroll, James Thurber, or E.B. White.
Dont waste your precious reading time on this one!

Here is my review from someone who knows The Netherlands
....unlike the author who wrote the book with the help of history books and conversations with Dutch people in her New York City social circle!

Free on Amazon! My first book from the Netherlands. Thanks to Megan for pointing me in the direction of this children's classic.

Hans and his family are struggling, following his father's injury working on the dykes. You'll find yourself empathizing and wanting them to overcome their stark circumstances. In the mid-section, some well-to-do boys are on a "frolic" through the towns around Amsterdam (skating, via canal). For me, although a delightful thought, this section ran a bit too long and was
Recensione completa su Café Littéraire

Mary Mapes Dodge in queste pagine ci racconta una storia in cui i protagonisti sono un gruppo di ragazzini.
È attorno alle loro vicende che scorre la storia.
Hans, Gretel e la loro sfortunata famiglia, colpita dieci anni prima da una disgrazia che li ha portati alla misera condizione in cui stentano a vivere e all'isolamento.
Trattati da reietti pur non avendo nessuna colpa.
Hilda, Peter, Lambert e i loro amici, tutti più o meno benestanti, si districano tra la
Shapeless and cliched. Despite the title, a significant chunk of the book--the middle third, at least--has nothing to do with Hans Brinker or the race for the silver skates but instead tracks in excruciating detail a staking holiday/tour a bunch of adolestent boys go on, touring around Holland and engaging in seemingly endless discussion about Dutch history and lore--because that's how teenage boys occupied themselves in the nineteenth century, I guess. They do have one rather melodramatic adven ...more
Tom White
Mar 16, 2015 Tom White rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone 10 and up
Recommended to Tom by: N
I would hesitate to call this book a children's book. Young people's book, yes, but a story that has a father recovering from a ten-year illness by means of what amounts to brain surgery cannot be classified as a children's book.

The language, being stilted in the idiom of the mid-1850s, is a little difficult, but is overcome by a story that is immensely valuable as a survey of the geography, manners, customs, and history of Holland from the mid-19th century perspective. One actually gets a feel
This is one of those books that when you go back to it it's like an old friend that reminisces with you. This book gave me so many ideas, dreams and mental images!! The main dreams being to go to Holland and learn Dutch!

Basically the story is about Hans and Gretel's (Isn't that a fairy tale?) struggles because their dad is basically insane because of an accident. Throw in a skating race, a watch, a treasure hunt, and a "frolic" to the Hague, and there you go!

This book takes a looong detour from
I read Hans Brinker, or the Silver Skates when I was a child and loved the wonderful story. Hans comes from a poor family, his father is terribly ill, and he, his mother, and his sister Gretel all must work hard to support themselves. Hans' dream is to win a skating race on the Grand Canal because the prize is a pair of silver skates. He has only wooden skates, which gives him no chance to win the race. He is saving money to buy a pair of steel skates to have some hope of winning. Well, I'm sure ...more
Desiring to introduce my kids to a variety of literary styles and language, I have pressed on despite the uninspiring beginning, and in fact we all became quite interested once the story of Hans and Gretel and their unfortunate family got underway -- why, it looked like it was shaping up to be a right jolly mystery, with missing gold, enigmatic admonitions, and a tragic "accident" (or was it?) -- my my! Pages turned! From the frozen canal, the children hear their mother scream and rush home! Wha ...more
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Mary was born Mary Elizabeth Mapes to Prof. James Jay Mapes and Sophia Furman in New York City. She acquired a good education under private tutors. In 1851 she married the lawyer William Dodge. Within the next four years she gave birth to two sons, James and Harrington. In 1857, William faced serious financial difficulties and left his family in 1858. A month after his disappearance his body was f ...more
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