The Dog runner by Bren MacDibble


“When the world turns upside down, the ones that survive are the first ones who learn to walk on their heads.”


The Dog Runner , written by Bren MacDibble is a  poignant Middle grade fiction book that allows readers to delve into a world where food is scarce and the world population is suffering.

We meet Ella, the quiet city girl who has lost her mother and hasn’t seen her for 8 months.  She borrows books from her neighbour by sliding them under his door and she remembers life before people started to become dangerous.  Her father and brother live with her and each day, although comforting to still have some of her family, is an act of survival.

Until her Dad doesn’t return home.

Ella and her brother Emery need to find not only their Dad but also Ella’s mum and Emery’s home out in the Mallee scrub. If they can find this place not only will they find his family but they will be able to live off the land and not have  to live off canned sardines and old books.

But to get there they need to pass people who will stop at nothing and land that has little water or shade. Ella and Emery shouldn’t have to take a dangerous journey like this – but they must.

But that’s when Maroochy, Wolf, Bear, Oyster and Squid come in –  A pack of dogs who are strong enough to pull a sled across the barren land. The adventure starts when they take off from the city and it is non stop suspense as they bump and race over the land.

The Dog Runner highlights the importance of the danger of relying too heavily on the use of pesticides on farmed land, large corporations who focus on one type of grain and thinking we can constantly kill our soil and hope that it continues to give us more food.

In this world that Bren MacDibble creates, a fungus has killed all crops around the world and it is only the genius of Emery’s grandpa that gives Emery and Ella hope that the world will again be fed and hopefully more aware.

Indigenous farming methods are the best suited farming methods for Australia and it is about time that we started to take more notice of how they looked after the land and always had diversity in what they grew. Many crops in Australia are not suited to the climate and the soil has been mistreated so poorly that the reliance on pesticides is increasing.

This book sends a message to us all – re learn your Australian history and trust the methods and the crops that the first Australians grew. Stop relying on multinational companies and start looking towards smaller scale farms that take time to look after soils and produce.

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In the city I see by Tori-Jay Mordey

Have you been on a trip to the city lately?

Perhaps it is too far away or too busy for you?

Perhaps just for now you can curl up on your lounge and visit it from there! 

Visiting the city is a great experience for young children so in the meantime – take a look at this new book ‘In the city I see‘ written by Tori-jay Mordey and published by Magabala books.

A small , simple and sturdy board book, ‘In the city I see’ will amaze young readers with the vibrant colours on each page that help to add more detail to the simple descriptions.

As you travel through this story you might see hungry pigeons or colourful markets and as you read each of these pages you can talk to your child about the colours they can see, the faces on the people and the different details Tori-Jay has added.

The young art series by Magabala books is a great initiative that showcases young indigenous artists. We have read At the beach I see and At the zoo I see – both fantastic books for young readers.

So what else can you do with this story as you read or after you have read it?

  •  Point out the different colours, name and ask what they are.
  •  How are the different people in the book feeling on the various pages?
  • Who lives in the city?
  •  Why are pigeons hungry in the city?
  • Which flags are flying from the tall buildings?
  • Which show is being advertised on the sign? Check out this video here
  • Visit the city with a camera and an agenda. Choose some places that you can get to by walking or bus and check out places that are child-friendly. A day out in the city is a great way to spend some time!