Pippa is wowed and intrigued and worried in equal measures as she learns of the special moves her family and friends are preparing for the upcoming Big Dance. What if she doesn’t have any of her own? Or what if they’re rubbish? Or maybe it’s the dance itself that is silly! Before she knows it, Pippa is having a sulk and it will take everyone’s understanding, patience and love to make her see that the dance can only be ‘big’ if she takes part in it, because the Big Dance is ‘where we are all the same and all different, [w]here we can all be ourselves together.’
This charming reflection on the individual and the collective and how they can accommodate each other is an absolute riot of colours and shapes. Greenham’s début is a visually assured one as she plays with gorgeous and vibrant contrasts of sunny yellows, candy pink and quieter indigo. The layout also does a lot of the heavy lifting, most successfully in the spread where Pippa zips down the slide while her thoughts spiral down to the sad conclusion that ‘I’m not anything like [the others]. I’m just a ME.’ The dancing pages are also glorious and I will defy any reader, of any age, to get through Poppa’s dance or, indeed, Pippa’s, without tickling those ears, bumping that bottom or wobbling those arms. The liberating energy of the illustration would have been better served by slightly tighter plotting in the second half (we hear a lot of voices for such a short book), but Big Dance is a brilliant début with a strong message and art to dance for.