Every story that multi award-winning author Karen Foxlee creates brims with magic, heart and beauty, and features young people with big dreams, challenging obstacles and a knack for discovering parts of themselves they never knew existed. Her latest middle-grade fiction book Dragon Skin (Allen and Unwin 2021) is no exception.
Ten-year-old Pip lives with her mum, Melissa, whom she adores, and her mum’s boyfriend, Matt, who is not so great. In fact, Pip’s mum becomes somehow less when Matt is around – less fun, less happy, less confident, less brave, less easy in her own skin. Pip used to have a best friend, a new boy called Mika, who seemed to understand her in a way nobody else did. Together they went exploring, learnt facts and thought about the universe. But now Mika has gone, and Pip sits at their waterhole alone, and often lonely.
When she finds a dying creature in the mud, she smuggles it home to try and care for it. But who knows how to care for a dragon? Surely not ordinary Pip, who must spend all her time trying to make herself invisible – or at least as small as possible – in her own house.
As the days pass, and Pip tries a combination of Weet-bix, sticky-tape, sugar and water, she learns that the most important ingredient of all is to believe in everything.
Written in Karen Foxlee’s unmistakeable style, with characters you will fall in love with, and language that sings from the pages, Dragon Skin touches on themes of friendship, grief, abuse, powerlessness, families, love, magic and mysteries and the infinite possibilities of childhood. A truly beautiful novel that will resonate with young people finding their way, navigating relationships, and searching for their true purpose in life.