'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Wednesday 6 October 2021

Review: Dragon Skin

Multi-award winning author Karen Foxlee of the magnificent Lenny’s Book of Everything, has produced another astonishing and imaginative novel. Layered and immensely emotive and magical, Dragon Skin will keep you in your seat till the last word.

Pip is a collector of odd things dug up with her stick around the waterhole where she spends all her out-of-school time. There she finds a tiny, indistinguishable object resembling a piece of scrunched up rag that turns out to be a baby dragon. 

She pricks her palm on a point of its wing while taping icy pole sticks to repair the damaged areas.

Pip names it Little Fella and knows she must hide it otherwise Matt, her mother’s partner, will discard it in a second.

When Matt came into their life, everything changed. He stole what they had – their money and warm relationship, and turned them into other people; quiet, wary, afraid. He took over all the house, stole her mother’s laugh and all they shared together.

When Pip’s hand first gets infected, she is taken by her mum to the doctor. When her arm becomes heavier and the skin change spreads to other parts of her body, she is able to smell words.

She constantly hears the voice of Mika, her best friend, in her head. He was left at his great grandmother’s place near Pip’s home for safety. Although now absent, he continues to guide and comfort her. His cleverness, love and knowledge of all things supernatural and otherworldly, surround Pip.

We learn what happened to him at the end.

It isn’t long before the inquisitive and persistent Laura, a classmate, discovers Pip’s secret. Never a friend due to their contrasting social status, Laura surprises Pip with her support and secrecy about her pet, and her skill at Dragon Singing that surfaces.

Then Arthur sneaks a peek at the foundling and demands to be part of the group. He later becomes the dragon teacher that ultimately teaches Little Fella how to fly.

The story takes on another dimension when Pip undergoes a physical and emotional transformation. This is juxtaposed with the tragic changes that take place in their lives. 

The power and courage that mother and daughter had stolen from them, is retrieved in an explosive climax when powerful, heart-wrenching decisions are made.

Title: Dragon Skin
Author: Karen Foxlee
Illustrator: Dale Newman
Publisher: Allen & Unwin, $19.99
Publication Date: September 2021
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9781760526108
For ages: 10 – 12
Type: Middle Grade Fiction