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A Day on Skates: The Story of a Dutch Picnic Hardcover – May 1, 2007
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A Day on Skates is a simple story of a Dutch brother and sister who go on a skating picnic with their teacher and classmates for a whole day. For modern children, the setting and events open up the imagination to far away times and places. There are humorous episodes and simple lessons in humanity present in the story. The writing is lovely and engaging. The pen-and-ink illustrations and occasional full-page color paintings are a perfect complement to the story.
A particular strength of the author's writing is her sympathetic view of the human condition. Here is a perfect example from the story:
"Every Dutch boy and girl loves to skate, and every Dutch man and woman, too. And no wonder. Holland with its canals and streams has many miles of ice when the cold at last arrives. Both Evert and Afke had learned to skate when they were very small. Indeed, Afke had been only three when she first tottered on pigmy skates, carefully held up by her father. By now she had become quite an expert, and Evert was even better. He had won several prizes in his school's skating tournaments. One of the prizes had been a beautiful book called Robinson Crusoe, which he had read so often that the cover had come off. Another time he won a silver pencil, which he gave to Afke, and the last time it had been a book entitled Good Henry, the story of a boy who was always good. This he had promptly traded for a penknife."
We bring this book out again and again, particularly on chilly winter days. Although the text is a bit longer than your average picture book, it's broken up into short chapters. We tend to read a chapter at a time spread out throughout a day.
This would make a lovely gift for children of all ages.
Hilda van Stockum, then a young art student in Dublin, started working on the illustrations in 1932, drawing on her childhood memories of Holland and skating on the canals there. The story followed the lively pictures. She explained these circumstances in her introduction to the 60th anniversary edition, in 1994.
She wrote in that introduction: "I was so absorbed in my task that once, having been brought a cup of tea by my mother, I accidentally dipped my brush in it while slowly sipping the paint water!"
The book has the same absorbing quality for readers. In it low-key, sweet way, it draws you into a world of frozen canals, lines of boys and girls skating in tandem, cracking ice, grand old cathedrals, snowball fights and hot chocolate and spice cakes.
But the story is not just fun and current buns. Pigtailed little Afke and her brother Evert develop as characters during their skating picnic, as do their friends. They get to know their shy classmate better and he no longer feels lonely. Hidden under the homey story are timeless lessons.
A Day On Skates; A Day on Skates: The Story of a Dutch Picnic
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is the sweetest story! A lot of words for reading-aloud... but great for curling up with a cup of tea and reading yourself. :)Published 13 months ago by Amazon Customer
We read this book aloud, a chapter a night, every Yuletide to our children . They love the adventure the children go on and the characters are interesting.Published 15 months ago by Mamato2