Hans Brinker by Mary Mapes Dodge
Publisher: Random House
Number of pages: 352
In a little Dutch village on the Zuyder Zee
lives the modest family Brinker. Father Raff Brinker is
employed on the dykes, and during a threatened inundation he
falls from the scaffolding. After that he never works again;
his mind and memory are gone, and he becomes a strange, silent
man. The Brinkers, however, if poor in worldly goods, are
blessed with two splendid unspoiled children – Hans, who is
fifteen, and Gretel, who is twelve. On the occasion of a gala
skating match held on the birthday of Mevrouw van Gleck, wife
of the burgomaster of the town, the prize is to be a pair of
silver skates with silver bells and buckles. The Brinker
children have no skates with which to enter the competition,
although they are the best skaters in the town. Encouraged by
kindly little Hilda van Gleck, Hans and Gretel invest in ice
skates; it is Gretel who wins the silver skates. A subsidiary
story tells of the cure effected by the famous Dr. Boekman on
Raff Brinker. Happy results ensue: Mynherr Brinker recalls the
spot where he had buried 1,000 guilders before he lost his
memory. He also helps Dr. Boekman find his long-lost son.
- Without the father’s provision, the wife, son and
daughter struggle against acute poverty, each doing what he
or she can to aid their survival and to care for the father
and for each other. Both mother and children are thus a good
example of many virtues: honor, compassion, patience,
honesty, sense of duty, etc.
- Besides the main heroes, there are many other bright
characters such as Peter and Hilda, etc.
- The story shows how some children like Carl and Katrinka,
set off the good qualities of the others. It teaches us how
to behave in a friendly and charitable manner.
- Through the conversations of the traveling boys, we see
their great love for their country and admiration for its
- The reader is introduced to the world of 19th
century Holland: dikes, canals, tulips, windmills, the
housewives’ passion for cleanliness, the devotion of the
Dutch people to St. Nicholas, etc.
- Some of the most exciting scenes of the book are built
around events related to the skill of the children in the
art of ice skating. The story will thus appeal to children
who have the opportunity to practice this sport (Northwest
US and Canada).
- Hans Brinker has a good plot which holds our
interest throughout the book. The end is especially good,
with the cure of Raff, the discovery of Dr. Boekman’s son
and of course the famous race.
Several historical passages can be either
skipped or read with corrections. The author (Protestant)
portrays the former Spanish rulers (Catholic) of Holland as
tyrants. The Duke of Alva is called "the worst specimen of
a man that ever lived." To correct his misinformation, the
teacher can use History of Christendom by Warren
Carroll (Volume IV). The story of the Catholic martyrs of
Gorkum can also be read to the children.
Hans Brinker is a story which
emphasizes many Christian values. It is at the same time
beautifully told and in an entertaining way. Children should
enjoy this classic and thrill to the courage and resolution of