DANCE FOR THE LAND by Clemence McLaren


Age Range: 10 - 14
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McLaren (Inside the Walls of Troy, 1996, etc.) writes of a girl’s wish to understand her new surroundings, and to be understood by those who love her. When Kate’s father decides to move back to his homeland to work as a lawyer for Hawaiian sovereignty, Kate is devastated at the thought of leaving their comfortable home and affluent lifestyle (not to mention a beloved pet) behind. From the first she hates Oahu and the seedy little apartment the family moves into. Worse, Kate enters school and discovers what it is to be part of a despised minority; she is half Hawaiian, but her fair looks brand her as haole, looked on with contempt at best. Even in her family she experiences rejection; her Hawaiian relatives more or less ignore Kate when they’re not fighting with her father over the means they should use to gain their freedom from the US government. Kate’s past training in ballet comes to her rescue when she learns the hula, the historic interpretive dance that is a major part of Hawaiian culture. To her surprise, her relatives realize that she is not just learning to dance beautifully but is coming to respect their traditions and way of life. It’s a fine story, made even more interesting through its the unflinching look at a place most mainlanders think of as a tropical paradise. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-689-82393-2
Page count: 143pp
Publisher: Atheneum
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1999