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The Trumpet of the Swan (1970)

by E. B. White

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11,23176568 (4.05)88
Knowing how to read and write is not enough for Louis, a voiceless Trumpeter Swan; his determination to learn to play a stolen trumpet takes him far from his wilderness home.

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» See also 88 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 76 (next | show all)
Like the rest of his family, Louis is a trumpeter swan. But unlike his four brothers and sisters, Louis can't trumpet joyfully. In fact, he can't even make a sound. And since he can't trumpet his love, the beautiful swan Serena pays absolutely no attention to him.

Louis tries everything he can think of to win Serena's affection--he even goes to school to learn to read and write. But nothing seems to work. Then his father steals him a real brass trumpet. Is a musical instrument the key to winning Louis his love?
  PlumfieldCH | Sep 21, 2023 |
Parts of this classic children’s story were cute and other parts were disturbing. It is just my usual misgivings with anthropomorphized stories influencing my opinion. As always, the illustrations by Fred Marcellino were cute.
Rating: 3.5 stars
Original Publication Date: 1970
( )
  Ann_R | Aug 7, 2023 |
A triumphant story. ( )
  mykl-s | Aug 6, 2023 |
When I was a kid, I never liked this one quite as much as Charlotte’s Web (though it's far better than Stuart Little, which I never cared for at all). Found that my opinion is pretty much the same as an adult. Though nostalgia has kept this one alive for me- if I were reading it for the first time now, I doubt I would be able to ignore the inconsistencies, some absurd coincidences that stitch the plot together, and occasional word use or attitudes that haven’t really aged well (like referring to the mute swan as defective). I bet kids would still enjoy this book though.

It’s about a wild trumpeter swan named Louis who is born mute, can’t make a sound. He’s observed by a quiet boy who is camping in the woods with his father and finds the small pond where the swans live. In this book, the animals talk to each other, but can’t talk to people, however they can understand most human speech. They also have some odd comprehension of human things- which I’m sure I didn’t even notice this as a kid . . . So when Louis grows up, he falls in love but can’t win a mate without communicating- the female swans just ignore him. The boy helps Louis the swan go to school and learn to read and write. This doesn’t help him with the other swans, as none of them can read! but it proves useful later on, when he interacts a lot with people. The female he likes continues to ignore him. So the father swan flies to a city, breaks into a music store and steals a trumpet. Louis teaches himself how to play it. He’s determined not only to win the lady swan’s love, but also to regain his family’s honor by paying back the debt his father incurred from stealing a trumpet. The boy once again helps out- Louis gets a job playing taps at a summer camp, then later goes to a city where he plays music as an attraction on a lake and after that, he goes to another city to play in a nightclub. Coincidentally, the female swan he’s been pining for gets blown out of the sky in a storm, onto the zoo lake where Louis is staying. Louis impresses her with his trumpeting, and having met his goal of earning enough money, is ready to fly back home. But the zoo wants to keep the swans around, and is threatening to clip the female’s wing. Louis bargains for their freedom by promising that in the future, he’ll give the zoo some of his offspring (the “weaker” ones that need more protection and safety). This is one part of the story I had completely forgotten! I’m leaving a lot out, but in the end, Louis and his lady love are back in the wilderness raising a family, the trumpet debt is repaid, and all is well.

The story has a lot of contrast between some lovely nature writing in the beginning and end, when the swans are living in the wilderness. Then all the swan’s adventures in the cities with various mishaps and funny bits that I’m sure are more entertaining for kids. Personally of course I liked the parts on the pond in the woods better. And I’m glad the swan liked that life better than visiting a city hotel, too!

more at the Dogear Diary ( )
  jeane | Jul 1, 2022 |
I first learnt the name E.B. White in relation to his Elements of Style; this book is a test of those elements, and passes with flying colours. A Trumpeter Swan is born without a voice, and must learn to communicate by other means. A great children's story, written in a clear authorial voice that never patronises the audience; the stakes are low but there are hints of real-world danger scattered among the nice moments. A great read, and one I shall be handing over to my daughter forthwith. ( )
  soylentgreen23 | May 24, 2022 |
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
E. B. Whiteprimary authorall editionscalculated
Frascino, EdwardIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marcellino, FredIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Merling, JennyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Walking back to camp through the swamp, Sam wondered whether to tell his father what he had seen.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Knowing how to read and write is not enough for Louis, a voiceless Trumpeter Swan; his determination to learn to play a stolen trumpet takes him far from his wilderness home.

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Louis is a trumpeter swan. He is born one summer on a little pond in Canada, along with four brothers and sisters. But Louis has a terrible problem. Unlike the rest of his joyfully noisy family, Louis can't make a single sound. And without a trumpet sound, his true love - the beautiful swan Serena - just ignores him. Louis's father promises to help. So does Sam Beaver, a boy who loves all wild animals. First Louis goes to school with Sam and learns to read and write. But swans can't read, so Louis still can't make himself understood. That's when Louis's father puts his honor aside and steals a brass trumpet to give his son a voice. Louis's determination to pay off his father's debt and to woo his own true love takes him far from the wilderness he loves, but his faith and his joy in life are always with him.
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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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