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The Dog Runner

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  210 ratings  ·  59 reviews
From the author of the multi-award-winning and bestselling How To Bee comes an intense and thrilling new adventure.

'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
Paperback, 248 pages
Published February 4th 2019 by Allen & Unwin Children's
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Bren MacDibble The protagonist is very young so she uses the term 'doggo' as a term of endearment within the text of the story.

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Average rating 4.10  · 
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Review to come.

Another wonderful CliFi story set in Aus and aimed at MG readers.

Unfortunately this one didn't pull me in quite like How to Bee, but it was still an engaging read and I did stay up late into the night to find out what became of these kids.

The biggest issue with this book (for me) was that it wasn't as emotional as How to Bee... So... because the author is so awesome, this one did seem to strike a little less hard... but maybe it's also just the mood I'm in right now?

Still some
Zitong Ren
Mar 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Dog Runner by Bren MacDibble is a wonderful middle grade book that focuses on lots of issues that actually plague the world today. As she is an Australian author, the dystopian world that she has created here is wonderfully believable. In this book, a Red Fungus has destroyed essentially all crop life that have to do with grasses like wheat which has led to a major food shortage in the cities. As Australia constantly suffers from droughts that already leads to water shortages, this book is ...more
Kelly (Diva Booknerd)
Dec 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: allen-unwin, loveozmg
It begun with the fungus that spread across the expansive fields of Australia, fresh produce became a rare commodity as the pasture succumbed to infestation, animals starving, livestock perishing. The government delegated rations were barely enough to survive as friends and neighbours begin to abandon their homes. Organised syndicates roamed the neighbourhood in search for commodities, gold and precious metals traded for meagre allowances.

Siblings Ella and Emery share their small suburban
Apr 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: khs-books
If Bren MacDibble or as she is otherwise known, Cally Black, writes a book, I am going to be invested in it. Her deft handling of big issues in a simple way which I'm sure will go down a treat with middle school or intermediate age kids but also with juniors at secondary school. This book has such engaging characters, a young girl and her brother. They are on a journey through the decimated Australian landscape trying to get to family who are a long way away. People are starving, a fungus has ...more
Michelle Worthington
Jun 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
What I like about Bren MacDibble is that she doesnt preach and she doesnt patronise her readers. So many authors like to take a stance and they then proceed to hit you over the head with their beliefs. They try to make you feel stupid for believing in what you think and often they will ridicule the reader for not believing in what they believe is true and right. Bren MacDibble doesnt do this; she shows us what a better way is and shes lets us decide. She did this with the wonderful How to Bee ...more
Jan 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
4 ½ stars. This is such a page turner! Full of adventure and suspense. There were many times when I had to hold my breath as I was so worried about what might happen to Bella and Emery and their pack of dogs.
The story is set in a future Australia where grains and grasses have been destroyed by a fungus, so the ecosystem has collapsed along with civilised society. This is a frightening look into what our future might be like if we dont make changes to protect our environment.
Definitely a
Linda Hill
Apr 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
With anarchy growing and society in meltdown, Ellas family is being torn apart.

What an absolutely fabulous childrens story. I was gripped by Bren Mac Dibbles The Dog Runner from start to finish. I thought it was a brilliant touch to begin the narrative with Ella borrowing Goldings Lord of the Flies from her neighbour because themes of societal breakdown represented here echo Goldings in an all too real possibility in todays world. I loved the way Ella is desperate for reading material too
Liz Derouet
What a satisfying read. I love Ella, and Emery, and their doggos! Full review on my blog soon.
Barbara Band
Mar 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: KS3
Set in a dystopian Australia where a virus has destroyed the worlds grain, thus making food scarce, Ella and Emery are alone in a city that is becoming more dangerous each day. Their father has gone to find Ellas mother and they realise that they cant wait for him but have to move up-country to find Emerys mum, living on a farm with her Afghan father. Ellen and Emery harness their dogs to a cart and set off across the barren land.
This is a story about a journey, fraught with danger, and about
A great read for intermediate age kids set in Australia at a time that the crops have been killed by a virus and food is scarce. Bella and her brother decide to set out with their dogs to find Emery's mother and hopefully a safer life. Plenty of action along the way, fast paced and gripping. The adults are a bit 2 dimensional, but Bella is a great character. I found the ending a little bit too tidy but given the intended audience, it works well. A perfect read for the kids who love adventure, ...more
May 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
For kids ten and up. Ella and her brother Emery are living through a global emergency: a fungus has destroyed most of the planets crops and caused widespread food shortages. When their dad doesnt come back from an expedition into the city, the two kids set off for Emerys mothers house upcountry, along with their three huge dogs. Emery and Ella have different mothers, and Emerys is of Aboriginal descent. MacDibble deals with blended families and racial difference subtly and well; its mentioned ...more
Apr 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I love a good dystopian novel and "The Dog Runner" certainly didn't disappoint. The story is set in Australia at a time when a fungus has destroyed all of the grass and wheat crops in the world, which means that many of the animals that people farm have died because of the lack of grass and other crops. Food has become very scarce and so Ella and Emery decide to head off with their dogs to find family (Emery's Mum) who live in the outback. Their Dad has been gone for quite a few days looking for ...more
Jan 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
LOVED this one. Amazing writing and great story. So good to have a aussie book featuring dog mushing, not something a lot of people know about. Loved the family dynamics, science and indigenous themes worked through it too.
Challenging and fast paced.
Mar 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: middle-grade, 2019
This is middle grade fiction at its finest. Raw and resounding dystopia. Whip-smart characters traversing through a dying landscape. Its bleak but hopeful and doesnt underestimate the intelligence of its audience. Also features many doggos! 🐕🐕🐕🐕🐕 ...more
Anna Davidson
Brilliant! Fast paced action story set in an imagined Australian future where a fungus has killed off all the grasses, setting off a chain reaction, which leads to people in starvation, survival mode. Beautiful messages about Aboriginal connection to the land. So many wonderful discussion points for young people about the environment and human nature. Hands down one of the best Australian books Ive read this year. ...more
Alyce Hunt
The Dog Runner is a middle-grade dystopian novel, in which a red fungus has destroyed all wheat, leading to a shortage of food and a fight to survive. Ella and Emery take five big doggos and travel across the Australian desert to Emerys mums house, avoiding danger and hoping to be reunited with their dad or Ellas mum, who have both gone missing.

Until the end of the book this was a solid four star, but the last chapter is so rushed and underdeveloped that it undoes a lot of the hard work
Mistress Bast
A simple story - but very good for middle-grade readers (10-14 yo). Set in an Australia about a year after a fungal disease has killed off all the grass-based crops (wheat, barley, rice, maize, etc.).

This one has good elements of adventure - our heroes Ella and Emery need to make a run for it now the city has become unsafe and their parents are missing. Along the way they have to choose whether to trust strangers that they meet, or try to avoid people all together - at the same time as keeping
Mar 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Such an amazing story!

My 11yo son received an advanced copy from a local bookshop to write a review. I started reading it aloud to him at lunch time today. We had short breaks for soccer training and dinner, but I managed to get it finished before bed time. I don't think he would have slept without hearing the ending! But now my poor voice needs a rest!

Set in Australia, this is a wonderful tale of bravery, perseverance and loyalty. It champions the bonds that make people family, and that even in
Carolyn Gilpin
I didn't want to finish this too quickly, it was so good! Loved Ella and Emery and their dogs, particularly Maroochy :)
Katy Noyes
May 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cilip-reviewcopy
Child's-eye-view of Australian lawlessness in times of biological devastation.

About the youngest dystopia tale I've come across, a story of a changed world and a population struggling to cope with change, narrated by a young girl caught up in it all. Ella, her brother Emery and Dad are waiting for Mum to return to them from her important work, before they can escape the city for somewhere safer and with more prospect of food.

A fungus has killed off grass worldwide, resulting in a chain reaction
Oct 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Dystopian fiction for primary aged readers is not that common and Bren MacDibble has done a great job with the Dog Runner to examine a world where a fungus has wiped out grasses across the globe and the disastrous effects of this on farming practices - no grass and grain means no meat. The result is that society breaks down and without grass to cover the land there is massive erosion, and drought.

Set in Australia, the story centres around Ella and her brother Emery - city dwellers - mum is a
Dimity Powell
Mar 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kids-lit
MacDibble has a knack of transporting readers convincingly into their own environments that aren't really and making them live through a time that could be now. Dystopian in feel and rich in atmosphere, The Dog Runner is another example of a marvellous and at times disturbing sense of place describing the disintegration of society after a catastrophic environmental disaster.

Two young kids caught up in the aftermath, Emery and Ella, set off from their wasted city with their starving collection
Apr 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Loved this teamwork and survival story of a brother and sister making their way across a dusty and mostly dead landscape in search of family and a future. Interesting and believable setting of a future where a virus has killed off the grains and grasses needed to sustain life across the planet. Parts of this were absolutely gripping - I can imagine the kind of background music you would need if filming some of the scenes of the book, like encounters with various people and not knowing if they ...more
Charlotte Pearson
Nov 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Ella and her family have to keep their doggos a secret in the city. Gangs roam the streets, the government have stopped giving out food packages and the power went out long ago.

When dad leaves to go and find mum, who was called in to work at the power station months ago, it is down to Ella and her big brother Emery to look after things. But dad doesn't come back and Emery decides they need to leave the city, to travel up-country.

With doggos and their buggy they mush across the diseased
Sarah-Jayne Windridge-France
May 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A really lovely book - giving thought to future environmental changes and possibilities.

Exceptionally well written, caught up from the outset I was compelled to keep reading and finished the book within a couple of days.

Excellent characters (two young children, vulnerable, but capable and adventurous and their dogs) a fraught journey of escaping imminent doom and reaching safety and security and all the trials and tribulations in between.

A compelling read, which I think would appeal to anyone
Feb 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Bren Macdibble is back with a new dystopian novel set in Australia where there is little food left and people are fighting for survival.

After Ella's dad leaves to find her mother, she sets off with her brother Emery who has swapped her ANZAC biscuits for dogs and a sled. They use the dogs to go mushing across country in search of Emery's mum and grandparents. After Emery is injured, Ella must step up and navigate their way through the land without running into danger.

Macdibble has once again
Mar 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The dog runner is about a girl, Ella, who has an older step brother, Emery, and five big dogs,Wolf, Bear, Maroochy, Squid and Oyster. They struggle through a barren world of future Australia while a red mushroom has killed grass all over the world. Throughout their journey Ella discovers a side of her that she never realised she had, bravery, resilience, hardwork, intelligence and how to walk on her head.
I personally feel that Ellas fight for life allows you to really tell what shes thinking
Heather Gallagher
Mar 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fab-mg
I really enjoyed this edge-of-your-seat read by Bren MacDibble. She has an amazing ability as an author to make you really care about her characters and Ella and her brother Emery were no exception. Left on their own in a dystopian future, they head off from the city to the country with a troupe of dogs on a dog sled. Their mission is to get to Emery's grandma's place where hopefully they will find safety and be reunited with their parents. I liked the way this book explored climate change and ...more
Margot Lindgren
Jan 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
I love the way Bren MacDibble allows her readers to join the dots. The relationships within this family, the chaotic city, and the back story about the world in crisis are all revealed in tiny story fragments. The idea of a world without grass crops is an intriguing one. Ella and Emery are brave and resourceful kids in a world ruled by violence and greed. I was lucky to read an Advance Reader Copy. This is an excellent book for Middle Grade readers who enjoy thinking about the possibilities the ...more
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NZ Intermediate S...: The Dog Runner 5 15 Apr 03, 2019 01:20PM  

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Bren travels Australia in a bus, with her family and crazy little dog.

Her children's novel, How to Bee, is her first children's novel. Her next The Dog Runner came out in 2019.

Look for her next novel in 2020: Across the Risen Sea.

Bren grew up on the land, and her work explores future challenges to the environment, in particular as it relates to food security.

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