Hans Brinker

Retold by:  Bruce Coville
Illustrated by:  Laurel Long

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I was delighted to find this charming classic reintroduced in a glorious picture book version for young readers.  Coville has masterfully adapted and interwoven three tales involving young Hans and his sister, Gretel, in this story of a family sticking together through hardship, and wondering if wishes will come true.

The first tale revolves around Hans and Gretel desiring to compete in an important ice-skating race on a Holland canal.  They, however, are too poor to afford anything but wooden skates, knowing they won’t be fast enough to win. How they wish they could win the prize of the new silver skates!

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Then there is the mystery of the loss of the family’s savings, which occurred at the same time Han’s father had a serious accident at work years earlier.  Hans finds a capable Doctor, but will he be willing to help the family?  They’ve wished for years for the renewed health of their father.

The Dutch doctor who Hans brings to help his ailing father has a burden of his own.  It seems that his hard and rough exterior is due to a heart that is full of loneliness.  What secret wish does the Doctor keep?

Acts of generosity are woven throughout these  intertwining tales, including the efforts of Hans and Gretel’s friends to help them upgrade from their wooden skates to faster, newer skates.  Will all of these wishes come true?  Are the wishes somehow related to each other?

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This is the best kind of fairy tale, when we realize that being selfless often sets a miraculous series of events in motion.  And wishes have a way of coming true – just in the nick of time!

The  illustrations are breathtaking and luminous.  They also provide visual features of Dutch architecture, culture, and society.

HANS BRINKERMary Byrne Kline
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1.  What was the reason for Annie asking Hans to carve her a wooden chain?

2.  How did the case holding the silver skates lead to solving Dr. Boekman’s wish?

3.  What facts in the story prove that Hans was selfless, and put others ahead of himself?

 

 

 

 

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