Dragon Skin, by Karen Foxlee
This middlegrade novel by multi-award-winning author Karen Foxlee is a work of art - from the stunning textured cover, to the breath-taking prose.
The protagonist is ten-year-old Pip, who spends her afternoons down at the waterhole, quietly remembering her friend Mika. Home is no longer a safe space - her mum's boyfriend Matt has sucked away all the light and laughter. Now there's a constant undercurrent of danger.
But everything changes when Pip finds an injured baby dragon at the waterhole. She knows she has to try to save the little dragon - but will she find the strength and magic inside herself to heal what's been broken?
This is a beautiful story of grief and loss, fractured families, friendship and healing. It is also a story of magic and believing in the impossible. Pip is such a wonderful narrator - tough yet fragile. I loved observing the way she grew and changed as the story progressed. As Pip helped heal the baby dragon and watched him grow stronger and braver, so she began to gain strength and understanding. I also loved seeing the way Pip's mum also slowly became empowered to reclaim her agency.
The setting is so evocatively portrayed - the lyrical prose painting beautiful portraits for the reader. I wanted to slow down as I read and savour the beauty of the writing - there were sentences I needed to reread for the pure joy of them.
Despite the inclusion of darker themes such as domestic violence, toxic masculinity and grief, this story shimmers with light and hope. Karen Foxlee handles her subject matter with great care and sensitivity.
Ultimately this is a story of the healing power of love. It fills us with hope that if we believe in ourselves, then really anything is possible.
Published by Allen & Unwin