Monday, February 29, 2016

Hans Brinker, Or, The Silver Skates

Hans Brinker, Or, The Silver Skates. Mary Mapes Dodge. 1865. 244 pages. [Source: Bought]

What did I think of Hans Brinker, or, The Silver Skates? What did I REALLY think? It was something, that's for sure. At times I felt it was going in too many different directions to be a solidly-good read.

There is the Brinker family drama. Hans and Gretel are brother-and-sister in a desperately poor family. Their father has had a brain injury for a little over ten years, and, he is getting worse, beginning to suffer more, and lash out more in his madness. Hans wants to seek out a famous surgeon to see if his father can be helped. But, of course, there is no money to pay the surgeon, and, the surgeon travels around from city to city, and you never know where he is to be actually found.

There is the drama surrounding a dozen village children--boys and girls--all more "better off" than the Brinker children. A group of boys--including one visiting English boy--decide to go off on a sight-seeing adventure together on their skates. They'll cover many, many miles; go through many cities and villages; and spend many days and nights away from home. Throughout their actual adventure, history lessons--dense history lessons--are included in the form of dialogue among the children.

Then there is the drama and excitement of the SKATING RACE. Hans and Gretel *want* to participate of course. And all the other boys and girls ARE participating. Will Hans and Gretel be able to participate too. Perhaps if they can manage to buy *real* skates instead of homemade wooden ones. The prize for the skating race is a pair of silver skates; one pair to be awarded to a boy, another pair to be awarded to a girl.

The book is part action and adventure, part travelogue, part history book, part sentimental coming-of-age. I must admit that I really liked the story line with the doctor/surgeon and the Brinker family--how everything is resolved. I know it's the most sentimental aspect of the story, but, I really enjoyed it all the same. The basics of the story are good, I think, it's just I'm not sure how many readers really, really want detailed history lessons covering centuries worth of material.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Kailana said...

Sounds like something to pass to me, but good post!

Alex said...

I loved this book so much when I was a kid. In fact, I recently found a used copy and bought it with the intention of re-reading it. Thanks for the review, now I'm really curious to see what I think on re-reading. I don't generally re-read books because I don't want to fall out of love with them, so we'll see.