Thursday, March 29, 2018

The Trumpet of the Swan by E. B. White

A young boy, Sam Beaver, travels to the wilds of Canada to camp with his father.  While there, he discovers a trumpeter swan nest.  He returns later that summer to see the young baby swans, and discovers one of them is mute.  Their friendship begins and young Louis learns how to adapt to his world first by attending school and learning how to write, and later becoming a trumpet player in order to communicate with other swans while making beautiful music.  

My almost ten-year-old son Daniel and I read this book together for the Kewaunee Youth Book Club.  I read this when I was around Daniel’s age and I only remembered some of the story. It was a joy to reread it and Daniel loved the story.  He really loved when Louis went to camp and continued to have adventures.  He also loved Louis’s father, the Old Cobb, who liked to wax on in in very elaborate descriptions about items.  He thought he was pretty funny. My 12-year old son has just started reading it for book club, but is not enthused about it since his brother liked it.

Daniel and I loved how the tale was partially set in the wild and discussed the trumpeter swan.  Daniel is very curious about trumpeter swans now and really wants to see one.  We had to look them up when we finished the book and see where they are located in the U.S. and look at pictures.  We may be able to see one here in Wisconsin, but searching online lead me to the WK Kellogg Bird Sanctuary.  It is not far from where I grew up in Southwest Michigan and I went there as a kid.  They have provided a sanctuary for trumpeter swans in Michigan.  We have a new place to visit next time we are visiting my parents in Michigan.  Daniel is ready to go now especially when we read you get to feed the birds with buckets of corn.

I loved how the overall theme of the book was on a swan who was born with a disability, but through his own hard work and help from family and friends he was able to find ways to live a fulfilling life with his disability.  Even though Louis had a disability, he was a wonderful bird who had a great life and provided a lot of joy to a lot of people.

The drawings by Edward Frascino were delightful and added to the story.

Favorite Quotes:

“Remember that the world is full of youngsters who have some sort of handicap that they must overcome.  You apparently have a speech defect.  I am sure you will overcome it, in time.  There may even be some slight advantage, at your age, in not being able to say anything.  It compels you to be a good listener.  The world is full of talkers, but it is rare to find anyone who listens.”

“It scared him to be different.  He couldn’t understand why he had come into the world without a voice.”

“Darkness settled on woods and fields and marsh.  A loon called its wild night cry.  As Louis relaxed and prepared for sleep.  All his thoughts were of how lucky he had been to solve his problems with music, and how pleasant it was to look forward to another night of sleep and another day tomorrow, and the fresh morning, and the light that returns with the day.”

Overall, The Trumpet of the Swan is a wonderful tale that is enjoyable to both child and adult.  I loved the overall theme of overcoming adversity.

Book Source:  The Kewaunee Public Library – Thank-you!


  1. Your welcome! Still trying to get Kile to read it before book club on Monday. I found my old copy and it was a gift to me on my 10th birthday from my Great Grandpa and Grandma Kile.