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Hans Brinker or the Silver Skates

3.87  ·  Rating Details  ·  10,883 Ratings  ·  248 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
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Paperback, 256 pages
Published December 15th 1993 by Tor Classics (first published 1865)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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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
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GoldGato
Sep 16, 2015 GoldGato rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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
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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 ...more
Ilona
Feb 15, 2014 Ilona rated it it was amazing
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
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Megan Anderson
Aug 30, 2015 Megan Anderson rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: formystudents, 2010
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
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John Yelverton
Oct 02, 2011 John Yelverton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A sad book, and an uplifting book at the same time. Well worth your time to read.
Wes
Feb 27, 2008 Wes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
Lisa Vegan
Jul 20, 2007 Lisa Vegan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Barbara VA
Nov 12, 2013 Barbara VA rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013-read
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
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Kelsey
Jan 29, 2014 Kelsey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition


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
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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 ...more
Irene
Jul 08, 2013 Irene rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Meagan
Jan 09, 2016 Meagan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Data
Jun 30, 2015 Data rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: everything_but
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,
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Cathy Cramer
This book is one of my mom's favorites, so I first read this as a teen and re-read it after my teen. I had wanted to read it as a family, but wasn't sure my 3rd grader was old enough. I was also wondering if my teen was too old, but apparently not. Hans himself is 15 and Gretel is 12 in this story. I thought it was appropriate reading it during the time of year when the kids were taking ice skating lessons.

I love the story of the Brinkers, even though this time around I remembered how the pieces
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Will
Sep 29, 2015 Will rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
"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
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Sally
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.
Rachel
May 21, 2014 Rachel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: never-finished
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
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Volkert
Dec 11, 2015 Volkert rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, holland, fiction
As a Dutch boy, born in Holland and raised in America, I'm not sure why it took me more than half-a-century before I decided to read (actually listen to the audiobook version of) this book. It is a true classic, and one that should be read by every person of Dutch descent.

Along with a quaint story, published in 1865, about Hans and his sister, Gretel, growing up with their mentally-impaired father and patient mother, Dodge inserts interesting bits of Dutch geography, history and culture.

As a ch
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Krisaundra
Mar 19, 2015 Krisaundra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Estott
Mar 27, 2016 Estott rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Like many people out there I knew the story: Hans Brinker wins a skating race and saves his family. Well, I didn't. Don't worry, the story is in this novel, but it could be told in a chapter or two, and in some adaptions it is. In the original novel it is only a narrative thread woven into a heavy fabric of the History and culture of Holland. This part can be heavy going at times- styles have changed and didactic fiction isn't what it once was. At times this book was a page skipping bore.

Don't g
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Leslie
I listened to this delightful audiobook on a series of short road trips. For many children this book may seem to be slow for the first half. The plot is not propelled forward by any need to just move the story along, rather the author takes the time to develop the characters in a natural and pleasing way. However, the second half of this wonderful novel made me want to keep driving just to find out what was going to happen!! The beautiful and informative descriptions of Holland and Dutch traditi ...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.
Becky
Jan 23, 2014 Becky rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sue
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
Elizabeth Baker
Apr 01, 2016 Elizabeth Baker rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Elizabeth by: My older brother recommended the full length version
I loved this book. I have to say, though, that I am a sucker for "old" writing (this was written in 1932 so I consider it moderately old). Much of the intrigue I felt was the text surrounding the main story. It read like a wonderful travelogue, an insightful look at life in Holland in 1932. I felt that I could picture the scenery, canals, buildings both in the smaller areas and in the cities, the clothing and the people. The characters were well-developed. Beyond that the story was of the good o ...more
Bookmaniac70
Feb 09, 2012 Bookmaniac70 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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:-)).
Ruth
Feb 29, 2008 Ruth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
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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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