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BOOK REVIEW: The Dog Runner by Bren MacDibble

| 18 February 2019 | Reply

BOOK REVIEW: The Dog Runner by Bren MacDibble

Allen & Unwin
February 2019
Paperback, $16.99
Reviewed by Steph O’Connell

Middle Grade / Climate Fiction


‘We’re gonna starve if we stay here,’ Emery said. ‘If we’re gonna go, best go now.’ 
And he said it like going was something easy. Like all we have to do is walk away.

Ella and her brother Emery are alone in a city that’s starving to death. If they are going to survive, they must get away, upcountry, to find Emery’s mum. But how can two kids travel such big distances across a dry, barren, and dangerous landscape? Well, when you’ve got five big doggos and a dry-land dogsled, the answer is you go mushing. But when Emery is injured, Ella must find a way to navigate them through rough terrain, and even rougher encounters with desperate people…



Bren MacDibble does it again, delivering a world that isn’t that far from our own… though with great, sweeping, climate related disasters that we should really be working to fix right now, but which so many people would prefer to look away from and pretend it isn’t a thing.

Dad said he never realised before how much grass he used to eat. Bread and rice, and noodles, and corn, and wheat, and dairy, and even his beer, all made of grass. He said he was just another cow, about to starve. Then he shook his head and looked at me like he shouldn’t have said that.

This is another great story, set in Aus, with kids and tweens doing what they need to in order to survive in this era of climate change they’ve been born into.

My belly grumbles like it knows already it won’t be getting Anzacs ever again.
The ugly red fungus killed all the wheat for flour, killed all the oats, killed the sugar cane for sugar and golden syrup, along with all the grass for cows and butter. Killed just about every ingredient that me and Dad used when we made Anzac biscuits. I don’t think I’ll ever see another Anzac bickie in my whole life.

It also heavily features Aussie, dryland dog mushing, for those in that particular community who feel under represented, or those who don’t know much about it but would like to know more. 

This reviewer’s only real pitfall with this novel is that it comes after How to Bee, which will hold a special place in my heart for years to come.

This novel is engaging and evocative, and readers are bound to stay up late into the night reading to see what becomes of these kids. They just might learn something about loyalty and determination, dryland mushing, and how important grass is to many parts of the food chain along the way.

I pull the zip up.
‘What are you doing?’ Emery says.
‘Going to get him,’ I say.
‘No! Those men might have him. It might be a trap.’
I fumble around for the handgun. ‘Then I’ll get him back,’ I say, coz family is family, even a big old doggo.

Category: Book Reviews

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