I am reviewing the storybook version of Mary Mapes Dodge’s full-length novel of the same name or The Silver Skates that was published in 1865. This version is retold by Bruce Coville.
In this adapted and greatly condensed version, Hans Brinker and his sister, Gretel, are eager to compete in an upcoming skating event. However, they have no money. Their father got in an accident at work where he worked on the dikes in Holland. He has been incapacitated for 10 years now. Through gifts of their friends they are given the money to buy new skates.
In Amsterdam, Hans happens upon a doctor, Dr. Boekman, who feels compassion for Hans and agrees to see his father. Dr. Boekman is able to revive Hans’ father who suddenly remembers being given a watch for safe-keeping. In a twist of fate, this watch belonged to Dr Boekman’s son who ran away 10 years ago in a misunderstanding.
With happy endings all around, Gretel wins the skating competition, Dr. Boekman is reunited with his son, Mr. Brinker is back to normal, and Hans is apprentices to Dr. Boekman and grows up to be a kind and compassionate doctor himself.
Great story about sacrificing for each other and for one another’s family and about helping others in need. Hans himself is the epitome of a self-sacrificing, doting son and brother who always does things for other people. A great role model to follow in today’s society of “me, me, me.”
The illustrations by Laurel Long make this book a stand-out. Beautiful in scope and color, the historical details are fascinating and make this book pop. Bruce Coville is an amazing children’s author who specializes in fantasy books for young readers.
This book has great family values, a thread of always doing what is right, and how things always work out in the end. Although God is not mentioned, one cannot help but think only God could pull off such circumstances and events. Highly recommended.