Review: Hans Brinker, or the Silver Skates

Hans Brinker, or the Silver Skates
Hans Brinker, or the Silver Skates by Mary Mapes Dodge

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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." Sometimes the wife wanted to oppose and contradict her husband, but this saying was drilled into her, so she didn't.

The book popularized the story of the boy who plugs a leak in the dike with his finger all night. The main plot centers on the husband who suffered an injury and was imbecilic for ten years. The internet tells me the author based this on a true story.

It is quaint and a bit too sentimental for my taste, but I don't think this is severe enough to be detrimental (note that it can be). Main characters set aside self interest and are willing to associate with the lowly. Excellent reading for the 11-15 age range.

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