As their father is sick, Hans Brinker and his younger sister Gretel must work to support their family. Despite this life of poverty, they long to take part in the annual ice-skating races on the frozen canal, where the victors win magnificent silver skates. But how can they hope to enter the races - let alone win - when their skates are wooden and home-made? After meeting the famous surgeon Dr Boekman, and hearing that he might be able to cure their father, Hans doesn't hesitate in offering to pay for the necessary operation, although he has been saving up all his money to buy two pairs of swift steel skates. As the big day looms, can the children enter their respective races and win the longed-for prize? "They are going to give a splendid prize to the best skater." "Yes," chimed in half a dozen voices, "a beautiful pair of silver skates - perfectly magnificent - with, oh! such straps and silver bells and buckles!"