Monthly Archives: January 2021

Poetry Box gold: Bren MacDibble’s Across the Risen Sea

Bren MacDibble Across the Risen Sea Allen & Unwin, 2020

Bren MacDibble grew up on farms all over Aotearoa. She lived in Melbourne, then sold everything and went bus travelling around Australia for two years. She recently parked her bus in Kalbarn on Australia’s west coast. I loved her first book How to Bee so so much – as did others because it won many awards in Aotearoa and Australia. Her second book Dog Runner won the Esther Glen Award for Junior Fiction at the NZ Book Awards (2019). She writes for young adults under the name Callie Black (and is ace at that too!).

Bren’s third junior novel Across the Risen Sea came out earlier this year. She wrote this in her acknowledgements page (in March 2020): ‘What a year we are going through. Although we’re only three months into 2020 as I write this, it feels like we’ve lived a thousand years of fires and disease. No matter how it turns out, it will be a year of lessons.’

Yes! Little did Bren know how our challenging year would unfold, and how things are still not better yet in the world.

Bren’s new dystopian junior novel Across the Risen Sea is a good book to read in these challenging times. It is highly entertaining, exquisitely gripping and, most important of all, thought provoking. The book will get you thinking about how we treat the world, and each other. I was reminded of how I learnt some important lessons in Level 4 lockdown. What do I need in my life versus what do I want in my life?

Neoma lives in a tiny environmentally-aware community on high ground. All about them is the risen sea. The old world has changed. Lost in the past, in stories, in whatever exists beyond the village. Her best friend is Jag. She and Jag want to be the best scavengers and fishing crew. They live in dwellings made of car bodies that the risen sea had brought to the surface. They live off the land and the sea. They are gentle and kind. They have no technologies, no internet, no mobile phones. They have little boats that skim over the ocean and they have wise elders.

One day some strangers arrive from the Valley of the Sun, with their different language and, without giving the locals any choice, chop down precious trees and erect a tower on a hilltop. Definitely technological. Definitely unsettling. Neoma is furious. She and Jag draw pictures of it, she gets too close and burns herself. Feeling their village way of life is under threat, she sabotages the tower – and her bold action in the dead of night sets off a tumbling and terrible sequence of events.

And here is the gold nugget of the book – the way a young girl is resilient, daring, thinking on her feet, slow to trust, keen to DO something to make things better. She must save her friend, find the truth, go places she never knew existed, outwit a wicked and extremely cunning pirate, hungry crocodiles. Such tension, such page-turning delight, I gobbled this book up in one sitting! YUM!

When I finished, I started thinking about how we are being given a chance to do things differently. How everything we choose to do has a consequence. How we can look out for one another, how we can do little tiny things to help make a world a better place for everyone! How we can find our own brave daring wonderful kind steps.

This is a very good book and I am sure it already has a BUSLOAD of reading fans!

Allen & Unwin page