''Hans Brinker,'' also known as ''"Hans Brinker, or the Silver Skates"'' and ''"Hans Brinker ''and'' the Silver Skates"'' is an 1865 children's novel written by American author Mary Mapes Dodge.
Hans is a 15-year-old boy who, together with his younger sister Gretel, yearns to participate in a great ice-skating race on the canal. The main prize is a pair of silver skates. Unfortunately, they come from a very poor family with a father who is unable to work since a fall from a dike. The father has mental problems as a result and the children have to work to support the family. They skate all right, but on homemade wooden skates that stick after a few strokes. After Dr. Boekman is persuaded to examine their father, the doctor concludes that Father Brinker could be cured by a risky and expensive operation involving trephining. Despite saving money to buy himself some steel skates, Hans offers the doctor everything he has. This touches Dr. Boekman so much that he offers to provide the surgery for free, thus enabling Hans to buy good skates and participate in the race. The operation is a success and from now on, Dr. Boekman is a much kinder man who helps Hans into becoming a successful doctor.
There is a subplot that often gets forgotten in the retelling of the story. A group of Dutch boys - Peter van Holp, Carl Schummel, Lambert van Mounen, Ludwig van Holp, Jacob Poot and Ben Dobbs - go on a multi-day skating journey to several of Holland' more famous towns. Much of the subplot consists of long conversations between Lambert and Ben on the history of Holland and the places they journey through.
In the end, Gretel wins the Girls' Race. When Peter's skate strap breaks before the third heat of the Boys' Race, Hans gives Peter his own skate strap allowing Peter to win.
There are a lot of common misconceptions surrounding this novel:
# The best-known part is the scene where a boy plugs a dike with his finger and thus prevents a large flood from happening. This tale is actually only a StoryWithinAStory. Hans reads about it in class. It has nothing to do with Hans Brinker himself.
# Never in Dutch history has a small boy ever prevented a flood by sticking his finger inside a hole in a dike. Nor did Mary Mapes Dodge think it up. It already circulated a few years earlier and is clearly a legend.
# Neither story is part of Dutch folklore. In fact, the story is hardly known in the Netherlands itself. The only reason you can find statues of a boy plugging a dike in Madurodam, Harlingen and Spaarlingen is to please tourists.
!!This novel provides examples of:
* AlphaBitch: Katrinka. She's not bad as alpha bitches go and the narrator points out that she'd be a kinder person if her best friend was Hilda instead of Rychie.
* BetaBitch: Rychie is the kind who is a PoisonousFriend to the Alpha Bitch Katrinka. Rychie can be nasty and even cruel; Katrinka is flighty and easily influenced.
* BittersweetEnding: Gretel and Peter win the skates, and almost everyone turns out fairly well. [[spoiler:Except for poor Jacob, who dies.]]
* ChildhoodFriendRomance: As revealed by the final chapter, Hans and Annie.
* CompletelyDifferentTitle: The story is sometimes shortened to ''"Hans Brinker"'' or ''"Hans Brinker ''and'' the Silver Skates"'', while the original title is actually ''"Hans Brinker, ''or'' the Silver Skates"''.
* DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything: A poor brother and sister named [[HanselAndGretel Hans and Gretel]]? Hmm...
* HaveAGayOldTime: [[AllLesbiansWantKids A little boy sticking his finger inside a hole in a dike]]? To prevent a ''"flood"''? Meaning the dyke is being fingered? Errrr...
* HeelFaceTurn: Dr. Boekman, who was gruffy and sympathetic at first, but was so touched by Hans and Gretel's innocence and unselfishness that he changed his ways.
* KidHero: The ''"Hero of Haarlem"'' and Hans himself as well, of course
* LemonyNarrator: Most of the book was written with standard narration. In a few places it lapsed into Lemony Narration, such as when the narrator pondered why SantaClaus didn't visit the destitute Brinker household on Christmas. Most jarring, however, is the ending, when the narrator declared that the reader didn't care whether Hans or Peter won the race.
* MacGuffin: The skates
* NoNameGiven: The dike-plugging boy is never named but is simply called ''"The Hero of Haarlem"''.
* SmallRoleBigImpact: The tale about the boy with his finger in the dike, which is only a small StoryWithinAStory, is actually more famous than Hans and his skates.
* SpoiledSweet: Hilda Van Gleck, unlike the two others rich girls in the story [[RoyalBrat (Rychie and Katrinka).]]
* StoryWithinAStory: In a case of PopculturalOsmosis, the story about the dike-plugging boy is actually read to Hans Brinker in class.
* ThatDidntHappen: The finger-in-the-dike story wasn't an actual historical event, nor is it part of Dutch folklore.