The Trumpet of the Swan by E. B. White (Harper & Row, 1970) is a fanciful children’s book, full of loveable characters. Those who enjoyed Charlotte’s Web will recognize E. B. White’s style: a child—this time a boy—in close relationship with an animal, and the animals talking and relating to each other in engaging and amusing dialogs. The animal in this story is a trumpeter swan named Louis.
The story begins in Canada, where Sam is vacationing in the wilderness with his father. While exploring, Sam happens upon a pond where a pair of trumpeter swans is nesting. At first the swans fear him, but when he rescues the mother swan from an attacking fox, they become friends. One of their cygnets, who is born without a voice, becomes his special buddy.
Back in Montana, where Sam is from and where the swans winter, Louis attends school with Sam and learns to read and write. With a slate and chalk hanging around his neck, Louis is able to communicate with people.
Father swan, who is prone to long, wordy speeches and is a little vain, nonetheless has a good heart. He realizes his son will never be able to woo a female swan without a voice, so he dives through a music store window and flies off with a beautiful small trumpet on a red cord. This, too, goes around Louis’s neck.
The rest of this fantasy relates how Louis learns to use his trumpet to delight both swans and people, and how he restores his father’s honor, which was besmirched by the act of stealing the trumpet.
There are nuggets of wisdom about love, marriage, parenting, honesty, friendship, and pursuing your dreams, all sweet as cotton candy. This book has no real sense of threat or serious danger. There are a few moments of aggression, concern, and evasion. There are many references to music and poetry, and lovely descriptions of nature and the changing seasons. Readers watch both Sam and Louis grow up and see their stories come to satisfying conclusions.
The 1970’s text is illustrated with black-and-white sketches by Fred Marcellino. His pictures capture the spirit of the writing. At approximately 250 pages, this book is a diverting, pleasant read for a young mind.
Available at libraries, Christianbook.com, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon.com. It can be purchased in book, e-book, and audio book formats.
Donna Fujimoto is a graduate of Alliance Theological Seminary. She has published both devotionals for adults and short stories for teens. Her children love to read.
Mrs. Fujimoto has a collection of short stories, 9 Slightly Strange Stories with an Uplifting Edge, available as an e-reader at Amazon. Find our review under “N” in the alphabetical listing: Titles We’ve Reviewed.