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Booktalking "Kathleen: the Celtic Knot" by Siobhan Parkinson
Kathleen did not do well academically, but she showed a raw talent for Irish dancing. Luckily, dance teacher Mrs. Maguire gave her free dancing lessons for a semester. Kathleen became obsessed with the steps, doing them in bed before going to sleep, constantly running over the combinations in her mind; dancing was her escape, and it made her feel as though she were flying. Kathleen is chosen to enter a dancing competition, but she lacks the money for an Irish green dancing costume. Castigated for praying for such "trivialities," Sister Eucharia gives the girl a piece of her mind.
Although Mam's illness weighs on her mind, Kathleen keeps an eye out for the magic fabric which may metamorphize into her dancing outfit. Polly comes to the rescue and stitches the perfect outfit just in time, and she gives Kathleen a special cake for her effort.
My only criticism of the book is that the girl Kathleen manages to do so well in the competition despite missing the last couple of rehearsals. This book is an American Girl book, and it is part of the international Girls of Many Lands series. It is set in Dublin in 1937.
I love Ireland; I worked there for three months in the summer of 2000. The street signs were bilingual in Irish and English. The language is beautiful, even if it is not spoken much anymore. I love the Irish words, names and lingo in the book. I love celtic music; I used to attend Ceilidhs (pronounced kay-lees), which are essentially dance parties, while I was in Scotland for five months. The frenetic dance and music are intoxicating.
I did an Irish step dancing routine as an undergraduate with my college dance team. I still remember one of the steps, and it is great fun to kick up my legs that far. I have heard that this type of dance is very hard on ones knees since the dancers are supposed to land from their jumps with straight knees.