Azaria: a true history – Maree Coote

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1571708225584

Walker Books Australia

March 2020

ISBN: 9780648568407
Imprint: Melbournestyle Books
Australian RRP: $29.99
New Zealand RRP: $32.99

I’ll be frank. When I first received this book I thought initially that it was odd subject matter for a picture book – in spite of my immense admiration for the fortitude and forgiving nature of Lindy Chamberlain (and if you missed the Anh Do Brush with Fame episode – you would be sorry I’m sure). But as I read it I realised that it is exactly right for a picture book for younger readers because we all need to engender in our kids an awareness of justice and injustice and that tragedies can occur, even more so when the media becomes both judge and jury.

The story of arguably the most horrible miscarriage of justice in Australian legal history is one that deserves to be told and while Coote’s narrative of the events does not shy away from facts it is not presented in a way that would cause deep trauma in readers but instead will create a wave of compassion for someone so cruelly wronged.

For many of us the events are burned forever in our memory. I clearly remember that when the news first broke, I rushed in to check my Jen, who was herself a tiny baby at that time. The surreal sequence of unfolding events was both shocking and unbelievable. Rarely in my memory has any individual been so thoroughly villified under the public scrutiny while the media indulged in a feeding frenzy like the piranhas they are.

In the typical fashion of the lowest common denominator just the very fact that Lindy and her family were Seventh Day Adventists marked them as ‘different’ and as our current circumstances will confirm this is still a deplorable failing among many Australians who reputedly are so tolerant and welcoming. Don’t get me wrong, of course many of us are but there is still a sector of society that seem to delight in their vile intolerance of any who don’t fit their perception of ‘true-blue’ Aussies.

Perhaps the most stunning aspect of this book are the absolutely fabulous illustrations which not only encapsulate the events but convey the mystic majesty of Uluru and Anangu country – a place that was such a joy to both The Kid and I when we visited a year or so ago.

Needless to say I feel this book is a ‘must have’ for your collection and in fact, not only suited to younger readers but I can see it as a terrific provocation for Legal Studies in the secondary school.

Highly recommended for both children from around 8 years upwards and adults.

Go well, Lindy.

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