The Trumpet of the Swan by E. B. White


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I found The Trumpet of the Swan on my parents’ bookshelf and decided to give it a read. I had read it as a kid, but it’s been many years.  I didn’t remember the story very well, and I was gratified to find that it will be a great story to share with my kids.


Louis the Swan is born without a voice but with the help of his father, he learns to overcome his speech impediment by using a trumpet to communicate.  Louis has a series of adventures–meeting a boy named Sam Beaver, playing music for human audiences, and wooing a beautiful swan named Serena.  Though Louis faces many challenges in life, he learns to get by and thrive by following his own unique path.

My thoughts:

I like this book because it’s a very old-fashioned and wholesome story.  It definitely reflects the values and style of the time period when it was written–the early 1940’s.

The animal characters in this book share an interesting mixture of human and animal traits.  While the swans do all of the normal things that swans would do in the wild, they also talk and reason like humans.  At times they also engage in behaviors which are uncharacteristic of swans–such as learning to read and write, playing a trumpet, staying overnight in a hotel room, and working for wages.  You have to suspend your disbelief to really enjoy the story.

One of my favorite characters in the book is Louis’ father.  He has a very grandiose manner of speaking and tends to rattle on in long monologues until his wife cuts him off.  He also has an inflated sense of pride and feels a lot of guilt over stealing a trumpet for his son.  It’s funny to think of a swan posturing and fretting like the old cob does.

I would recommend this book to elementary-age children or as a good family read-aloud book.  It’s a cute, innocent and charming story.

Possible Objections:

  • Native Americans are referred to as Indians

Rating: 4 Stars

Until next time…



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