Shortlist year: 2022

Shortlist category: Children's literature

Published by: Allen & Unwin

How to save a dragon:

  1. Assemble equipment. Water, Weet-Bix, sugar, syringe, sticky tape, scissors.
  2. Believe in everything.

Pip never wants to go home. She likes to sit at the waterhole at dusk and remember Mika, her best friend. At home her mother's not the same since her boyfriend moved in. They don't laugh anymore and Pip has to go to bed early, turn off her light and pretend she doesn't exist. When she finds a half-dead creature at the waterhole, everything changes. She knows she has to save this small dragon and return it to where it comes from. But how?

A story about surviving and saving those you love, by the multi-award-winning author of 'Lenny's Book of Everything'.

About the author


Karen Foxle

Karen Foxlee is an Australian author who writes for both kids and young adults. Karen's second novel for younger readers, 'A Most Magical Girl', won the Readings Children's Fiction Prize in 2017 and was CBCA short-listed the same year. Her next book was the internationally successful 'Lenny's Book of Everything', which has won multiple awards including the NSW Premier's Literary Award, the Indies Book Award, the Queensland Literary Award, was a CBCA Honour Book and was nominated for the Carnegie Medal. Karen lives in South East Queensland with her daughter and several animals.

Judges’ comments

Pip and her mother live with her mother's controlling boyfriend in an isolated mining town. Mourning the recent death of a close friend, Pip finds an injured baby dragon and decides to protect it. Doing so draws her into a small circle of unlikely allies. As Pip and her friends work together to save "little fellah", and help him return to his own world, she and her mother also find courage and healing within themselves.

There is much to love about this elegant work. The writing is assured and evocative and the use of the outback landscape with its moods and mercurial nature as a mirror for the inner turmoil of the characters is beautifully evinced. What sets it apart is the deft way that the line between fantasy and reality is navigated, so that the reader is never entirely sure where the allegory of the dragon begins and ends. The result is a remarkable piece of Australian children's writing.

'Dragon Skin' is a beautifully crafted, engaging and literary novel for middle school readers which will be enjoyed by readers of all ages.