The Year the Maps changed by Danielle Binks

‘What can I say Winifred? Sometimes maps are used to take power away from people, along with their language. And sometimes they help to change history – or erase it.’

In this stunning new Middle grade novel by Danielle Binks we meet Fred, a young girl who lives in the town of Sorrento, Victoria with her adoptive father, Luca, her maternal grandfather and Luca’s new girlfriend and son.

In her final year of primary school, Fred doesn’t know where she belongs in this mixed up family and misses her mum terribly after losing her not so long ago. She has her favourite teacher and a small group of close friends but even with their support she feels like she just can’t grasp the new ‘map’ which is being drawn out in her life.

That is until an event takes place – the 1999 war in Kosovo, a humanitarian crisis which captures the nation and causes the Australian government, under much pressure to act.

But Fred and her town experience much more than just the news of these refugee as 400 of them are moved to a safe haven in Sorrento in the middle of the night. Fred and her family get to meet these people and see them for who they are – in desperate need of care and a new life.

This story is full of love from family and friends. But there is also a bit of sadness as young Fred deals with family issues along with the injustice many refugees experience.

There are moments of humour and most young people will relate to how Fred feels towards her family, the state of the world and those she really cares for. They will see themselves in her – someone which isn’t always brave enough to stand up along, but with others – can stand firm.

The Year the Maps changed by Danielle Binks is a book that all young people should read to help them to think about their place in the world and those that are around them. It will help them to see beyond their own issues and know that many of us are also trying to navigate the new maps being drawn every day of our lives.

Connection between people of different ages and races runs through this story and highlights the need for no boundaries or walls to be drawn, but rather open arms and freedom.

The year the maps changed can be read by students aged 10 and up and many teachers might like to use this to link in with:

  • Geography lessons
  • Lessons about refugees
  • Highlighting the importance of family and friendships
  • Multicultural Australia and its benefits.
  • Racism and how it harms

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