On Book Monsters, I have tended to focus mainly on books for younger readers, but there is so much wonderful middle age fiction out there that I want to share more of it with you and what better way to start that trend than with The Dog Runner written by Bren MacDibble and published by Old Barn Books.
It is the future, a dystopian future in Australia to be precise, and Ella and her brother, Emery are on their own in a barren and dangerous environment, a city that is starving to death trying to survive. The siblings make a risky journey across these territories to try and get to their mother and relative safety with the help of their beloved dogs.
This is an incredibly pertinent topic as we are really just recognising the damage that has been done to the planet and making concerted efforts to change our behaviours in a world already very dependent on plastic, fuels etc. etc. The Dog Runner is an all too realistic story, something that could so easily happen, where people fight for every last scrap of food, where we return to self sufficiency. Bren has written a remarkable story here, where our world is stripped down to a simple and barren landscape, where belongings are a thing of the past, a materialistic existence is no longer a focus and just the basic requirements for survival which we can so easily take for granted, are hard to come by.
The story is told through the eyes of plucky, yet fearful and young Ella, which gives it a very emotional and empathic base, you feel her fears, her determination and love for her family. It’s a rollercoaster ride that you sit beside Ella on and hold her hand tightly. Well that’s how it feels at least.
Not only is The Dog Runner an exciting introduction to dystopian fiction for young children, it is a stark warning of what our future really could become. As an educational resource it’s the perfect launchpad to open up discussions with young children about taking care of our environment. Bren writes little in the story about how Ella and Emery’s world became as it is now, much is left to your own imagination, which is perfect really, as it allows children to think about and discuss what could have been and how possible this is. Perfect in a classroom, leading to creative writing, artwork and any number of linking projects. This is the kind of story that lends itself so brilliantly to education as children will enjoy reading, or being read this futuristic novel, but for teachers so much can be sparked from it.
Bren MacDibble has written a little masterpiece, serious, tense and poignant, it is different in a great way!
What better way to cope with a dystopian world than biscuits! Well baking and self sufficiency is the way to go isn’t it, in order to survive? Bren has sent me a fabulous recipe for Anzac biscuits a popular treat in Australia and New Zealand. Established in World War 1, the ingredients of these biscuits didn’t spoil easily so were perfect for sending out to troops. I had a go at this very recipe and the results were wonderful! I used a gluten free flour for my own use. They were incredibly easy to make and taste absolutely delicious. A brilliant recipe for home baking with your kids, so enjoy and let us know how you get on with them in the comments below.
as mentioned in The Dog Runner by Bren MacDibble
85g desiccated coconut
85g rolled oats
1 tablespoon golden syrup
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons boiling water
Preheat oven to 180°C.
Mix together the flour, sugar, coconut and rolled oats.
Melt the butter and golden syrup in a pan.
Dissolve baking soda in the boiling water and add to butter and golden syrup.
Stir butter mixture into the dry ingredients.
Place level tablespoonfuls of mixture onto cold greased trays (making room for spreading)
Bake about 12-15 minutes or until golden.
Bren MacDibble was raised on farms all over New Zealand, so is an expert about being a kid on the land. After 20 years in Melbourne, Bren recently sold everything, and now lives and works in a bus travelling around Australia. In 2018, How to Bee – her first novel for younger readers – won three major awards downunder and arrived in the UK. The Dog Runner, her second children’s novel, hit the shelves on 2nd May.
The Dog Runner is out now and available from all good book shops and libraries.
To find out more about Bren MacDibble please visit her little corner of the internet here:
Old Barn Books have lots of bookish delights right here:
Thank you to Old Barn Books for sending me this copy of The Dog Runner and thank you for reading this Book Monster review and please do check out the rest of the stops on The Dog Runner blog tour.