The Year the Maps Changed


Kosovar- Albanian refugees are offered ‘safe haven’ not far from the town in which Fred (Winifred) lives. She’s fascinated by their story, from the scenes of ‘ethnic cleansing’ on the television news, to the place where they’ve been housed. Then again, she watches her policeman father’s involvement in the plight of the four hundred brought to Sorrento. What’s more, it seems everyone in their small community feels affected by the strangers in their midst. However, the accommodation for and support of these strangers, fleeing a war zone, seems punishing. What’s more, the community is torn apart, leading to fractures within the friendship groups, and a focus upon the problem within the community.

Furthermore, Winifred has her own dilemma closer to home. Luca’s new partner is expecting a baby. It’s one thing to share a home with Annika and her son, Sam, but another child? How will a baby affect Fred’s place in the family? The ley lines of life are moving swiftly.

The Year the Maps Changed is set in 1999, with the threat of Y2K coinciding with a new arrival, change in the town, and Fred’s final year in primary school. What conclusions will be reached with any of this? Doesn’t Mr Khouri say that geography is set by people, really?

Bookwagon recommends this book strongly to really mature, emotionally intelligent, questioning readers. The Year the Maps Changed is an outstanding title.

Shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards 2021; A CBCA Notable Book for Younger Readers 2021; Shortlisted for the Readings Children’s Book Prize 2021; Longlisted for the ABIA Book of the Year Award for Young Children 2021; Longlisted for the Indie Book Awards 2021

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The Year the Maps Changed

Danielle Binks


Mr Khouri tells Winifred’s class how geography ‘is not just about flags, maps and compasses, or naming capital cities‘ but ‘really about- human beings’. Then he reminds his Year 5 and 6 how humans have spread out across the Earth’s surface, ‘affecting ‘the physical features of this planet’. It’s timely, for Winifred’s small town in Sorrento is to take in four hundred Kosovan refugees. It’s 1999, and Australian Prime Minister, John Howard feels compelled to offer a safe house to the thousands of ethnic Kosovars displaced by war. However, there’s a limit to the hospitality, from the temporary accommodation, to opportunities to fraternise and support.
Winifred, is feeling tectonic sized shifts as she watches the changes to her community from the new arrivals, to accommodating Luca’s partner and her son. It seems this is her family now, yet how does she fit really? Then again, what if there was a baby on the way, a ‘Drumlln‘? Furthermore, how do Mr Khouri and Luca react to the incomers and how is it different from others in the community? After all they’ve vocations, but there’s more to their considerations and understanding. Then again, what about Nora?
The Year the Maps Changed is one of the best books I’ve read in recent months. Not only is Winifred a fully realised character, but the way Danielle Binks creates the small Australian township, the year ad event, is perfect. Then again, we feel the shifts that Winifred feels; it’s as though we’re watching through her eyes. It moved me to tears, fury and laughter. Bookwagon recommends this title hugely, to any mature middle grade reader who needs books such as this, or The Bear Who Sailed the Ocean on an Iceberg, for example.


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