Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates
- Hans Brinker, or The Silver Skates: A Story of Life in Holland is an 1865 novel by American author Mary Mapes Dodge. The novel takes place in the Netherlands, and is a colorful fictional portrait of early nineteenth-century Dutch life, as well as a tale of youthful honor. The title of the book refers to the beautiful silver skates to be awarded to winner of the ice-skating race Hans Brinker hopes to enter. In Holland, poor-but-industrious and honorable 15-year-old Hans Brinker and his younger sister Gretel, yearn to participate in December's great ice-skating race on the canal. They have little chance of doing well on their handmade wooden skates, but the prospect of the race and the prize of the Silver Skates excite them and fire their dreams. Hans' father is sick and amnesiac, with violent episodes, because of a fall from a dike and cannot work. Mrs. Brinker, Hans and Gretel must work to support the family and are looked down upon in the community because of their low income and poor status. Hans and Gretel learn that a famous surgeon, Dr. Boekman, might be able to treat their father, but the doctor is expensive, and gruff in nature following the loss of his wife and son. Eventually, Dr. Boekman is persuaded to examine the Brinkers' father. He diagnoses pressure on the brain, which can be cured by a risky and expensive operation involving trephining. Hans offers his own money, saved in the hope of buying steel skates, to the doctor to pay for his father's operation. Touched by this gesture, Dr. Boekman provides the surgery for free. Hans is able to buy good skates and skate in the race. Gretel wins the girls' race, but Hans lets a friend — who needs it more — win the precious prize, the Silver Skates, in the boys' race. Mr. Brinker's operation is successful, and he is restored to health and memory. Dr. Boekman is also changed, losing his gruff ways. The Brinker parents live a long life. Dr. Boekman helps Hans go to medical school and Hans becomes a successful doctor.