cover image The Year the Maps Changed

The Year the Maps Changed

Danielle Binks. Quill Tree, $16.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-06321-160-5

Set in a small Australian town in 1999, Binks’s character-driven debut novel follows 11-year-old Winifred “Fred” Owen-Ricci through a complicated year of change that stretches her understanding of personal as well as global responsibility. Since her mother died when Fred was six, she has been raised in a cozy family unit with her police officer stepfather, Luca, and her beloved maternal grandfather, Pop. When Luca’s new girlfriend and her 10-year-old son move in, Fred begrudgingly tries to adapt. Soon, the family’s community also expands—in some cases also begrudgingly—with the arrival of 400 Kosovar Albanian refugees escaping war in Kosovo. Guided and challenged by ethically driven adults around her—including a thoughtfully drawn history teacher who awakens and nurtures her interest in geography—Fred grapples with the concept of a moral compass and with her changing community and relationships, especially when tragedy hits home. Acknowledging the mark of colonialism on Australia’s history, and including a parallel secondary arc about Fred’s Vietnamese neighbors, Binks engages Fred’s emotionally grounded, intelligently questioning narrative to look at the way “maps lie. Or at least, they don’t always tell the truth.” Protagonists largely read as white. Ages 8–12. Agent: Annabel Barker, Annabel Barker Agency. (Oct.)