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Reviewed by Kimberley Nielsen, School Librarian, Kamo Primary School, Northland
Opening sentence
And then I do the dance, the happy pipi dance, scooping up those pipi so they don’t stand a chance.
'Pipi Dance' is a picture book that feels distinctly set in Aotearoa with its use of te reo in the text (āe, kai, whānau, koro, moko, puku), and the native flora and fauna that students can spot in the illustrations.

My favourite thing about ‘Pipi Dance’ is the pictures – they are beautiful! Illustrator, Lily Uivel, has done a wonderful job showing what’s happening above and below the water. Her use of light, colour, and uneven lines make the waves look almost as if they are moving.

Unfortunately, I had some issues with the way this book was written: the number of syllables between rhymes is inconsistent throughout the book, meaning that the rhythm changes from line to line. The variance isn’t huge (3 syllables at most), but it means when reading aloud you can find yourself struggling to fit all the words in. I liked the repetition of key phrases throughout the book, but was frustrated that parts of these phrases changed in minor ways each time they were used, while the surrounding text remained the same (“all your might” vs “all of your might”). The author also paired words that didn’t rhyme as if they did (yell/shells, sand/can, top/hot, peep/eat). Some of these issues may seem minor, but they impacted on the enjoyment of reading the book aloud and I am confused as to why they were not picked up through the editing process.

I was also disappointed to see no mention of size restrictions and catch limits when gathering shellfish. This felt amiss given the detail that was given to other parts of the story such as preparing and cooking pipi.

That being said, I shared this book with six different Year 3 and 4 classes over the course of a day and it was enjoyed by all of them. Each class found plenty to talk about: what their family does at the beach; their own pipi gathering experiences; and how they cooked them.
Author & Illustrator: Angie Belcher, Lily Uivel
Publisher: Scholastic
ISBN: 9781775438083
Format: Paperback
Publication: 2024
Ages: 5-8
Themes: Family traditions, the beach