'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Saturday 13 June 2020

Review: Azaria: A True History

This year, 2020, is the 40th anniversary of the death of Azaria Chamberlain at Uluru.

When this little baby disappeared during a family camping trip, the entire nation was instantly caught up in a frenzy of gossip, prejudice and judgement.

It's a story so many of us grew up with. I can still remember it: Every grown-up had an opinion on whether Azaria was taken by a dingo or murdered by her mother. And every child in the school yard echoed their parents' opinions.

This horrifying chapter in Australia's history is sensitively captured in this evocative and heartfelt retelling of a true story. From the death of the baby taken by a dingo one night, to the mistakes and media frenzy that followed. From the infamous court case that every family watched on the television each night and the incarceration of a mother for murder, to the truth that eventually emerged decades later.

Maree's exquisite prose tears open old heartaches and shines a light on the cruel reality of the natural world, while exposing the callous court of public opinion. Her illustrations shimmer with the beauty of the desert; the rich colours of the natural world juxtaposed with the sombre darkness of society and supposition.

This is a beautiful and tragic modern-day Grimm's fairytale with powerful messages that will spark so many discussions about truth and justice, media opinion and public hysteria. It allows us to examine society's treatment of women (mothers, in particular) — Why won't she cry for the cameras? She seems 'unusual' — and of Indigenous people — Of course, there were those who knew the truth, but they were not heard.

This is a story for all ages and one that should not be forgotten. Highly recommended.

Title: Azaria, A True History
Author/Illustrator: Maree Coote
Publisher: MelbourneStyle Australia , $29.95
Publication Date: March 2020
Format: Hard Cover
ISBN: 9780648568407
For ages: 8+
Type: Non-fiction Picture Book