The Year the Maps Changed

Danielle Binks

The Year the Maps Changed
Hachette Australia
28 April 2020

The Year the Maps Changed

Danielle Binks

Finalist for the Readings Children’s Book Prize 2021

One extraordinary year will change them all…

Sorrento, Victoria, 1999. Fred’s family is a mess. Her mother died when she was six and she’s been raised by her Pop and adoptive father, Luca, ever since. But now Pop’s had to go away, and Luca’s girlfriend Anika and her son have moved in. More and more it feels like a land-grab for family and Fred is the one being left off the map.

Even as things feel like they’re spinning out of control for Fred, a crisis from the other side of the world comes crashing in. When a group of Kosovar-Albanian refugees are brought to a government ‘safe haven’ not far from Sorrento, their fate becomes intertwined with the lives of Fred and her family in ways that no one could have expected.


Eleven-year-old Winifred is going through a tough year. Her adopted dad has a new wife, she has a new stepbrother, and a baby is on the way. She not only needs to get along with her stepbrother Sam at home, but he’s also in her class at school. Luckily, she has one of the most wonderful schoolteachers in Mr Khouri, who is so smart and encouraging that he makes geography seem like the most fascinating subject on the planet. While he’s teaching his class about contour lines and drumlins he’s also showing them that geography is about what makes us human and how we can become better people.

Not only are there many challenges on the home front, but Winifred is also becoming aware of injustices that are occurring all over the world and on home soil. Set on the Mornington Peninsula in 1999, this heartfelt story is partly based on the real-life ‘Operation Safe Haven’ which temporarily resettled six thousand Kosovar refugees from the former Yugoslavian war zone into places around Australia, including Point Nepean. One of the refugees, a single, pregnant woman who is having a particularly hard time, becomes a focus for Winifred. This is the story of a young girl for whom the maps and pathways she has known throughout her childhood are all changing. Winifred must adapt and open up her world to new people and experiences, and the journey isn’t always easy.

This is a wonderful coming-of-age story for young people about the meaning of family and friendship, and how to find your own moral compass. There is so much heart and curiosity in the main character Winifred and her entire extended family. Reading this story is a sheer delight that will enthral young people who enjoyed Wonder, How to Make a Movie in Twelve Days or The War that Saved My Life. Suitable for good readers aged 10-14.

Angela Crocombe is the manager of Readings Kids.

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