Cover image for Dance for the land
Dance for the land
McLaren, Clemence.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Atheneum Books for Young Readers, [1999]

Physical Description:
153 pages ; 22 cm
When twelve-year-old Kate, who is half-white, moves to Hawaii with her brother and father, she becomes a victim of racial prejudice but also learns the meaning of her middle name.
Reading Level:
"Ages 10-14"--Jkt.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 5.2 5.0 44280.
Geographic Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Young Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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When twelve-year-old Kate, who is half-white, moves to Hawaii with her brother and father, she becomes a victim of racial prejudice but also learns the meaning of her middle name.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 5^-6. The author of Inside the Walls of Troy (1996) also puts an unusual twist into this modern tale of a child of mixed parentage struggling to cope with harassment and feelings of being a misfit. When her widowed father decides to move back to his native Hawaii, Kate not only has to leave her comfortable California life behind but also finds herself set apart by her pale skin, light hair, and willowy build. Surrounded by unfamiliar, dark-skinned relatives who speak an often incomprehensible pidgin, and singled out at school as a special target by a haole-hating classmate, Kate experiences something like what her swarthy, older brother claims to have gone through on the mainland. Kate's adjustment is made even more difficult by an acrid ideological conflict between her fiercely nationalistic uncle and her more moderate father. A longtime resident of the islands, McLaren enriches her story with detailed pictures of Hawaiian history, the increasingly active native rights movement, and traditional culture. By the end, after a demonstration in front of Iolani Palace and a family peacemaking ceremony, Kate's alienation breaks down under the weight of new friends, a better understanding of her extended family, and her delight in studying hula. A well-knit story, with multiple conflicts and resolutions, and clearly presented issues. --John Peters

Publisher's Weekly Review

In McLaren's (Inside the Walls of Troy) novel set in Hawaii, political issues overshadow the protagonist's journey to self-discovery. When Kate's father decides that the family should move to his native Hawaii, Kate must leave California, a chance at the lead in The Nutcracker ballet, her friends, her dog and the beautiful house designed by her mother, who died several years ago. Arriving in Honolulu, the 12-year-old girl feels uncomfortable around her father's relatives, reticent Aunt Alohi and foul-tempered Uncle Kimo, and confused by their "Pidgin" language. Kate's brother, who inherited their father's Hawaiian features, seems to belong here, but Kate has her mother's blonde hair and freckled face, and her classmates consequently ostracize her, calling her "haole" (white), a label given to the enemy of Hawaiian sovereignty. McLaren does a commendable job of presenting and explaining Hawaiian politics via the discourse between Uncle Kimo, who fights for a completely sovereign state, and Kate's lawyer father, who finds a more reasonable model in the Lakota nation with rights within the state of Montana. But these explanations often strain credibility and interrupt the flow of the novel (e.g., when Kate refers to "Hawaiians," her Uncle Kimo "explode[s],... `we kanaka maoli!' "; her father then says to Kate, "It means `The real people....' But the term `Hawaiian' is also acceptable"). As Kate learns about her heritage and her family's struggles, she gains appreciation for the Islands and its people. She joins a hula dance troupe and finds a way to express her tie to her father's homeland. Like the titular metaphor, the politics are often trumpeted, rather than woven into the narrative; ultimately, the banter between the two brothers upstages the changes in Kate. Ages 10-14. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-8There is trouble in paradise for 12-year-old Kate. She resents having to move to Hawaii, leaving behind her best friend, dog, ballet troupe, and her picture-perfect home designed by her deceased mother. Although she and her 16-year-old brother are both half Hawaiian, dark-skinned David resembles her father and seems to blend in immediately. Fair Kate, who inherited her mothers looks, suddenly faces the racism in the Hawaiian culture that plagued her brother for years on the mainland. Tormented by classmates, fearful of her outspoken uncle, and unable to communicate her feelings to her father, the girl is miserable. While hiding from classroom bullies in the school library, she discovers classmates practicing traditional hula dances and is drawn in by the music and graceful movement. By tales end, she has made new friends, and her uncle has become her number one cheerleader and reunited her with her beloved dog. This is an eye-opening look at a foreign culture right here in the United States that is struggling for its native rights and to redress past wrongs. Many readers are probably unaware of a radical movement to separate Hawaii from the States, and the author is knowledgeable about these issues. However, the worthy exploration into the cause and effects of reverse discrimination is diminished by the facile ending, and its unfortunate that theres no glossary for the Hawaiian words.Marilyn Payne Phillips, University City Public Library, MO (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.