I write books for children and young adults. Sometimes I write short stories for grown-ups.

Danielle Binks

The Year The Maps Changed

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.

A middle-grade coming-of-age story about the bonds of family and the power of compassion for fans of The Bone SparrowWolf Hollow and The Thing About Jellyfish.

Praise: 

  • ‘I cared so much for that family, especially the gorgeous relationship between Fred and Sam and what it says to us about being part of communities on a local and global scale. It’s timeless and beautiful and it deserves to be read by people of all ages.’ —MELINA MARCHETTA 
  • ‘A brilliant gem that will make you see the world – and your place in it – in a new way.’ —EMILY GALE
  • ‘This timely and beautiful story shows the very heart of what it is to be human and reveals the invisible lines of kindness and empathy that connect us all. It reminds us of the great risks we take for those we love as well as the small but vital acts of human kindness.’ —SALLY RIPPIN
  • ‘Danielle has a beautiful way of writing about big issues for young people – including refugees and infant loss. She has created politically aware, independent thinking, compassionate young people – and this book will shape many minds.’ CARLY FINDLAY, OAM 
  • This is a beautiful story about belonging and welcome, about fear and suspicion, and ultimately about the elastic bonds of family and love. The Year the Maps Changed has had rave reviews everywhere, and deservedly so. This is a terrific book. KATE CONSTABLE 
  • For the right reader, though, The Year the Maps Changed is going to be a very thought-provoking and touching read. Mature readers from eleven to fourteen will find a lot in Fred’s story, and it would make an interesting classroom text for grade six or seven classes delving into the complex and controversial history of Australia’s treatment of refugees. —EMILIA CLARKE, ‘Reading Time‘ CBCA Magazine 

Community Reviews: 

  • ‘By the time I read the final word of The Year The Maps Changed, I felt like I’d journeyed with Fred through some huge life and world events and that she might just remain with me always. Isn’t this what we want for the young readers in our life – to keep the characters they love inside them always? Fred is great. You’re going to love her.’ — CHILDREN’S BOOKS DAILY 
  • ‘Superbly crafted, touching and loaded with memorable characters, The Year the Maps Changed goes beyond being a middle-grade coming-of-age story to a tale that touches the heart and reflects upon human kindness and compassion. This title will most certainly have a home on the bookshelves of MG readers for years to come.’ —Allison Paterson, for MAGPIES MAGAZINE Volume 35 No. 2 May / June 2020
  • ‘This story! It’s so rich and multilayered dealing with big issues with clarity and depth. I would love readers young and grown up to read the story of Fred, her family and community.’ —FIONA STAGER, AVID READER
  • ‘This book reminds us of that seminal moment in our nation’s history when our elected officials decided temporary protection was all we could offer. Fred is a strong and brave kid in a world where things aren’t often fair or right but finding her moral compass allows her to navigate this tricky terrain. I loved her and I cried a lot.’ —JACLYN CRUPI, HILL OF CONTENT BOOKSHOP 
  • ‘I can wholeheartedly say that I absolutely love everything about this book. It approaches some big issues with gentleness, tenderness and the right amount of sensitivity. Highly recommended!’ —SUZIE BULL, FARRELLS BOOKSHOP
  • ‘It’s a mature middle grade novel for readers with a nose for history and the courage to be a change-maker. This story is full of heart with a message of empowerment and equality.’ —THE YOUNGER SUN
  • ‘A beautiful, heartfelt, gorgeously written book. Debut author Danielle Binks is an incredible talent and the world is a better place for having her wonderful story in it.’ —ANGELA CROCOMBE, READINGS KIDS
  • ‘There are never any guarantees of happy endings, even in children’s fiction, but this gentle story of Winifred’s growing understanding of the larger world and the adults around her is beautifully told and a very compelling read.’ BETTER READING 
  • ‘I’m not sure what else to say except read this book! It is an exquisite combination of heart-wrenching and heart-warming, and I found it so uplifting…’ BOOKISH BRON
  • ‘… this is a powerful debut novel from youth literature advocate Danielle Binks, exploring grief, family, friendship, community, fear and ignorance with honesty and sensitivity.’ READINGS 
  • ‘There’s power and meaning in the little moments for Binks, the novel seeking strength in the minutiae of the everyday rather than overplaying the more dramatic moments. Threaded together with small acts of human kindness, The Year the Maps Changed is not only an enjoyable but important story that will resonate with Australians young and old.’ —JES LAYTON, KILL YOUR DARLINGS 
  • ‘Written with a light but confident touch, Binks draws on events and places from her childhood to infuse this coming of age story with an authenticity that is hard to deny … There are sad times, confusing times, happy times and most of all, a big dose of hope contained in these pages. I hope this is a huge hit for Binks because I for one can’t wait to read more of her work. Suitable for ages 9 and up.’ —SUE OSBOURNE, LIBRARIAN 
  • ‘Binks explores big, timely topics as well as universal themes of friendship and loss in the most sensitive of ways. Brimming with small acts of kindness and with a cast of beautifully diverse and nuanced characters, The Year the Maps Changed is essential reading for middle-grade and adult readers alike.’ JACQUI DAVIES, BOOKS+PUBLISHING
  • ‘Reading this story, you can’t refute the idea that the answer is always kindness; always to learn, and to try to understand. This novel narrows in on the importance of empathy, family and community, and of following your moral compass. For those who loved Wonder by RJ Palacio, Bird by Crystal Chan, and The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin.’ CELESTESLIBRARY 
  • ‘The book was so much more emotional than I anticipated it would be. It is a book of sadness, anger, family and friendship. I think it is primarily a book of hope.’ BefuddledBookBlog
  • ‘For its middle-grade readership, it’s a great opportunity to learn the difference between what is right and what is expected. The Year the Maps Changed encourages its readers to develop their own moral compass and thoughts, independent of peer pressure and informed with deep empathy for others.’ Underground Writers 
  • The Year the Maps Changed is heartachingly beautiful. Danielle Binks has created an exceptional debut novel of warmth, compassion and finding your place in our ever changing world.’ DIVA BOOK NERD
  • ‘Overall this Australia set book is full of kindness, grief and love and confronts real life issues with raw honesty — never once trying to downplay difficult topics or insulting the reader. It is one of those few stories that reminds us that not everything has a perfect happily ever after at the end but there are foundation stones for it if you keep working towards it. The Year the Maps Changed ends in hope and sometimes hope is the perfect ending to difficult times.’ —SIMPLY ALLY TEA 
  • ‘If it’s not already clear, I love this story. It is beautifully literary, peopled with characters to cherish and cheer for. It grapples with old truths in new and fresh ways – it has a conscience and such heart. In reading The Year The Maps Changed, your world will be made at once bigger and cosier.’ — DEECAREY.COM
  • ‘Place is an integral part of the novel, something I’ve rarely seen in middle grade novels. Not only was there a reverence for Sorrento and the surrounding areas, there was also, from the very first page, an acknowledgement that Australia always was and always will be Aboriginal land.’ —Laura Pettenuzzo, for ANITA’S BLOG 
  • ‘The Kosovo war, indeed the whole Balkans conflict throughout the 1990s, and our treatment of refugees was something I was aware of during my adolescence. More than 20 years later, it can now be seen as part of the escalating inhumanity with which Australia treats refugees, which took a leap (downward) with the better-remembered Tampa incident, and the beginning of offshore detention and temporary protection visas. It is refreshing to read something so clearly identifiable with the 1990s, and it certainly takes me back to my childhood and adolescence. Danielle, I consider you’ve achieved something special – a top middle-grade novel , both historical and contemporary, with a most distinct voice. Your attention with the words and plot is so obvious, the care for the characters radiates, and your immense research has been put to outstanding use to give the story so much authenticity. The hundreds of little details really pay off. And it is with such details that wider truths emerge.’ —Kevin Lee

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Out Now with Hachette Australia