Tag Archives: bren macdibble

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

In the hammock: Bren MacDibble’s glorious How to Bee

My September poetry challenge




Bren MacDibble grew up on farms all over New Zealand. She now lives in Melbourne with her family and a ‘cheeky dog’.

I have just discovered her award-winning children’s novel, How to Bee, and I just adore it.  It was published last year by Allen & Unwin.

Peony knows a lot about living in the country. She loves living in the country but the world has changed after a terrible famine. Bees are almost extinct so children have to pollinate the flowers in the orchards and get rid of pests.

Peony’s job is to get rid of pests but she so longs to be a bee, climbing fruit trees to pollinate with her feather stick.


Peony lives with her Gramps and sister in a shed and she loves her life.

Her ma lives in the ugly city to earn hard cash where life is tough for the poor.  Her ma drags Peonie to work with her in a big rich city house but Peonie hates it. She just wants to get back to the life she loves.

I adore so much about this story. Especially fierce brave daring Peonie!

I love the way she wants to keep her promise to Gramps and stay with him.

I love the way she makes friends with rich Esmeralda and helps her to be brave and go outside and dance under the moon.

I love the way Peonie’s boss on the farm treats all the workers so well.

Reading this novel is like going up in a hot air balloon because it is one gigantic UPLIFT that makes you think about the world and being alive and caring for others and being a little bit daring and knowing what you love and what is important.


Beautifully written, beautifully imagined treasure of a book.


Allen & Unwin page

Bren’s website


WINNER: CBCA Book of the Year for Younger Readers, 2018
WINNER: 2018 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards, Patricia Wrightson Prize for Children’s Literature
WINNER: 2018 New Zealand Book Awards, Wright Family Foundation Esther Glen Award for Junior Fiction