Review Blog

Apr 20 2020

Azaria : A true history by Maree Coote

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Melbournestyle Books, 2020. ISBN: 9780648568407. 45pp.
(Age: 8+) Highly recommended. This is a matter of fact and honest illustrated summary of the case of the disappearance of Azaria Chamberlain in 1980. Coote has been responsible for a number of award winning children's books, including Animology: The big book of letter art alphabeasts but this is the first to really tackle a serious issue, the hugely shameful miscarriage of justice in Australia. She simply tells the tragedy, from the hysterical public and media reaction, to the poor initial investigation and subsequent jailing of an innocent mother, Lindy Chamberlain. From the outset the Anangu Aboriginal people should have been consulted. Thankfully the truth was discovered but it took over 3 years for Lindy to be released from jail and 32 years for her name to be cleared. There were positive outcomes and changes to the law as a result. We also learnt from other incidents across Australia that dingoes are wild animals and more than capable of attacking humans.
The large digital illustrations are fantastic at capturing the mood and the place and they support and add to the text so well. From the fabulous colours of the red desert and Uluru, the night time pictures of people looking for Azaria while the sand is covered in dingo footprints and the sad eyes of Lindy. There is much symbolism to discuss in these illustrations and I believe rich conversations could be had around this by parents and teachers with children. (There are teaching notes available on-line). There is not a lot of text but it has clearly been carefully researched and it is very succinct and meaningful. You could certainly discuss how the book alludes to this being a modern fairy tale. It is interesting to reflect on how rumour and gossip can fan out to judge people unfairly. One can only imagine with some trepidation what would have happened in this age of social media.
Jo Marshall

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