The True Tale of a Giantess: The Story of Anna Swan by Anne Renaud, illustrated by Marie Lafrance. Kids Can Press, 2018. ISBN 9781771383769
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4
What did you like about the book? This picture book biography reads like a short story written in the first person. It’s easy to forget that it is non fiction. Anna Swan’s life has an exotic feel. The author includes place names in Canada that almost seem made up – Pictou, Tatamagouche – and Swan herself was so fantastically tall that she seems out of another world. By age 6, she was already taller than her mother! The book traces her life from rural Canada to New York City where she joined P. T. Barnum’s Gallery of Wonders museum. I like that she seemed to control her own destiny and that she had the support and love of her parents. The mixed media illustrations complement the concept of Swan’s difference – the buildings and vehicles are rendered in draftsman-like sketching, while the people have color and texture, whether normal sized or outsized. Back matter includes notes for additional information about Swan’s life, sources and photographs.
To whom would you recommend this book? Biography readers, ages 4-10, will enjoy this. Also recommended for classrooms studying diversity. It would be interesting to talk about Victorian ideas of difference versus ideas now.
Who should buy this book? Elementary school and public libraries
Where would you shelve it ? Children’s biography
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No
Reviewer’s Name, Library, Town: Stephanie Tournas, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA
Date: November 6, 2018