Tuesday, March 10, 2009
The Trumpet of the Swan
by E.B. White
Although he lacks a voice in the traditional "Ko-hoh!" sense, trumpeter swan Louis learns to speak to the world with a trumpet stolen from a music store by his father. With the support of an unusual boy named Sam, who helps Louis learn how to read and write, the swan has some rather unswanlike adventures and ultimately wins the love--and the freedom--of a beautiful swan named Serena.
I had never heard of this book before looking for Charlotte's Web at the library and noticing it. I think this is probably the most overlooked of the three classic children's books that White wrote, but I have to admit it was my favorite of the three.
The story starts with Sam Beaver discovering a lake near where he and his father camp/hunt during the summer. Sam is an inquisitive boy and soon notices two trumpet swans who have built their nest on this lake. Eventually Sam meets the swan's babies (called signets) and the story of Louis the signet without a voice takes over.
Louis takes what life has given him and does the best he can with it. I love that he has a disability (which is referred to as a defect in this book - possibly the reason it's not as popular?) and uses it to his advantage. By learning to play an actual trumpet to communicate he is able to earn money to pay back his father's debts etc. He is also the only swan he knows that can read or write.
I wish that Louis had found someone other than Serena to marry. She had flatly rejected him when he didn't have a voice, but fell madly in love with him once he did. However, Serena is who Louis wanted, so I guess it's for the best?
There are lots of hard to believe things about this story (how did Sam recognize that Louis wanted to learn to read? can a swan bill really make the mouth formation required to play a trumpet? etc) but it was easy for me to suspend reality and just enjoy the story.
3.5 out of 5 stars
PS A warning for those that may listen to this book: once Louis gets his trumpet any "trumpeted" parts are played by an actual trumpet and it is LOUD! I enjoyed the use of the trumpet, but was about blown out of my chair the first time it happened :)
Posted by KT at 12:57 PM