The Dog Runner

Bren MacDibble

The Dog Runner
Allen & Unwin
4 February 2019

The Dog Runner

Bren MacDibble

Finalist for the Readings Children’s Book Prize 2020

‘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…


The people who survive when the world turns upside down are the first ones who learn how to walk on their heads.

Ella and her brother Emery are learning to survive in a world that’s been tipped upside down. Australia has succumbed to a fungus that has wiped out grass and led to worldwide famine. Ella, Emery, and their five loyal dogs make their way across a ravaged landscape, where food is scarce and kindness even more so.

Ella’s unique voice guides the reader through the story. She is young, but not naïve – aware that the world she finds herself in is unforgiving to the small and the vulnerable. But her hope carries her, giving her the strength to survive and to grow. In a time where young readers find themselves facing the uncertainty of climate change and global warming, The Dog Runner is a powerful imagining of things to come, and a reminder of the importance of kindness in the midst of uncertainty.

Bec Kavanagh works as a bookseller at Readings Kids.

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