Anne Renaud discovered Anna Swan by accident, but the giantess’ story captivated her so much she’s now written two books about her.
Renaud’s latest book, ‘The True Tale of a Giantess: The Story of Anna Swan,’ is a picture book biography with illustrations by Marie Lafrance.
“Anna was remarkable for a woman of that time period,” said Renaud. “Women at that time, in the mid-19th century, didn’t have many options in terms of what they could do, but she led a remarkable life. She earned her own living, travelled extensively and met all kinds of people, while having the challenge of being over seven feet tall.”
Renaud, who lives in Montreal, was doing research for another book when she came across a photo and information on the Nova Scotia giantess.
“I had never heard of her, but I thought her story would make a very interesting book for kids,” she said. “I touched base with Dale Swan and he was extremely helpful in providing information and photos.”
Dale is Anna’s great grand-nephew, and a volunteer at the Anna Swan Museum. After getting a Canada Council grant, Renaud travelled to Tatamagouche to meet him and do further research. ‘The Extraordinary Life of Anna Swan,’ which is directed to those aged nine to 12, was published by Cape Breton University Press in 2013, and the launch was held at the museum.
Kids Can Press asked her if she was interested in writing for a picture book about Anna, and she thought it was a great idea.
“If children are challenged in any way, there’s a good message here,” she said. “Facing challenges, Anna found love and led an exciting life. She lived her life with grace, and it was a full life.”
As far as Renaud knows, this is the first picture book about Anna.
Each page includes detailed illustrations, and at the back there are facts about her life, as well as photos.
Renaud hopes to get back to Tatamagouche to launch the book, which will be available Sept. 4. She has another book with Nova Scotia connections, called ‘Fania’s Heart,’ which was released this year, and she hopes launches for both books can be held later this year. ‘Fania’s Heart’ is a story about a child who discovers a tiny book made in Auschwitz in her mother’s belongings.
‘The True Tale of a Giantess: The Story of Anna Swan’ can be preordered online through Amazon and Indigo, and through Chapters and Coles.