Skydragon: Take to the skies by Anh Do

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Skydragon Book 1. Illus. by James Hart. Allen & Unwin, 2020. ISBN: 9781760876364.
(Age: 10+) Recommended. This is the first book in the author's latest series for middle grade readers. Nine year old Amber and her older brother Reggie survive an assumed meteor strike on their home but sadly both their parents pass away. Reggie is unconscious and in a coma while Amber, who suffers a severe burn on her right cheek, is kindly taken in by her older neighbour. There is mystery surrounding the meteor as it appears firstly as a glowing purple ball which leaves purple goop dripping all over the house. The National Service cordons off the house and no one is allowed in. Fast forward five years and Amber is fourteen years old and attending Woodville High School. She is a loner and bullied by the mean girl Trish and her cronies. Reggie is still in a coma and Amber struggles to fit in. While on a field trip she finds the beginnings of friendship with Justin, a popular geek. Both have an interest in insects, particularly dragonflies, and it is on the trip that Amber realises she has super powers around insects. She begins practising using different commands and is able to speak to the insects and control what they do. This leads to interesting revenge on her bullies over time.
Amber finds an old derelict cabin in the woods and begins to prepare it for her escape from others. Over time her friendship with Justin evolves but comes to a crashing end in Amber's mind when on the night of the school dance she is informed that her brother has passed away. However all is not what it seems and Amber has escaped to the cabin and lives there quietly on her own foraging for food and using the insects to help her. She slowly becomes notorious and is known as the Skydragon. Meanwhile the National Service has created a new secret agent known as the Firefighter who has special powers to track and arrest supposed criminals and will eventually have an exciting showdown with Amber.
This story is by no means over and Book 2 is coming soon. Themes: Fire, Tragedy, Insects, Fantasy, Conflict, Bullying, Friendship.
Kathryn Beilby