The Trumpet of the Swan: Full Color Edition

by E. B White

Other authorsFred Marcellino (Illustrator)
Paperback, 2001


Checked out
Due Apr 11, 2024

Call number

PB Whi

Call number

PB Whi

Local notes

PB Whi




HarperCollins (2001), Edition: Special, 252 pages


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.


National Book Award (Finalist — Children's Books — 1971)
Young Hoosier Book Award (Nominee — 1975)
Sequoyah Book Award (Nominee — Children's — 1973)


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

252 p.; 5.38 inches

User reviews

LibraryThing member AmberTheHuman
Maybe it's because I didn't read it as a child ... but I really didn't enjoy this book. I found it to be kind of a slog. And I found the part where the swan has his webbed foot cut so that he can play his trumpet uncomfortable and disturbing to read. I loved Charlotte's Web, always will, but
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White's two other books just have nothing for me.
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LibraryThing member fingerpost
(Full disclosure: I am an adult who usually reads middle-grade to teen fiction, most of which I thoroughly enjoy. I probably would have enjoyed this book MUCH more when I was 8 or 10 years old, but its story doesn't hold up well for an adult reader.)
Louis is a baby trumpeter swan who has no voice.
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Fortunately, he is fluent in the English language, learns to write, using a small slate and piece of chalk, and to play the trumpet beautifully, which gives him a voice. He gets jobs, for which he is paid, and he negotiates things with people. In the end, he convinces the love of his life to love him back and he lives happily ever after.
E. B. White wrote three well known children's books. "Charlotte's Web" of course, is brilliant. One of the keys to making that book work so well, is that although the humans talked to each other, and the animals talked to each other, there was no communication between humans and animals other than Charlotte's writing on the web. Somehow, that worked beautifully, making one of the all time classic children's novels. Then there was "Stuart Little" which was absolutely abysmal. I can't imagine why anyone considers it a classic, other than by association with "Charlotte's Web." This book hung in between those other two. It's nowhere near as good as "Charlotte's Web," but it also doesn't make you want to shred it and throw it in the fireplace the way "Stuart Little" did (for me anyway).
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LibraryThing member bexaplex
Louis the swan learns to fly, read, gets several jobs, earns a medal of honor and woos his lady love. E.B. White is at his best in this book, with good-natured humor spilling out of every page.
LibraryThing member Hamburgerclan
The Trumpet of the Swan is the story of Louis, a trumpeter swan who is missing his trumpet--he was born without the ability to speak. Or honk, or whatever you call a swan's vocalizations. It starts out as a very pleasant tale of animals in the wild and a boy who watches them with reverence and awe.
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A bit of humor is interjected as the father swan is given a human personality, full of pride and a tendancy towards verbosity. Then, a few chapters in, Louis decides to go to school, figuring that literacy would be the cure for his handicap. You're reminded that this is a book from the same author of Stuart Little and Charlotte's Web, where sentient animals and humans interact as a matter of course and many people are apt to spout a view of life that's a bit amusing. Louis' story is no different as he seeks to overcome his handicap and establish a good life for himself. It's an amusing tale, one worth checking out.
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LibraryThing member cmbohn
I like this one better than Stuart Little, really, but not as much as Charlotte's Web.
LibraryThing member wordygirl39
This is my favorite of E.B. White's three children's books, probably because I grew up in love with the natural world and a child of the mountain states. This book holds its worth even for adult readers.
LibraryThing member BoundTogetherForGood
I gave it a rating of three but only becauset the kids always seem to really enjoy it. I find it a bit tedious and almost as if he retells part of the story toward the end. It just seems to go on and on and on for me.
LibraryThing member lmeek04
This book would be an excellent segue into talking with students about disibilities that might exist in- or outside the classroom. Even those with disabilities have certain strengths that can be emphasized. I learned a lot about swans from this book and students would, too. This would make a great
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independent reading book or even read aloud in a 3rd, 4th, or 5th grade classroom.
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LibraryThing member Stbalbach
I listened to the audio version (from Audible), read by E.B. White himself. I'm certain the audio version is better than reading the book, it's oral story telling at its best. White's soothing trombone voice, the trumpet sound effects, song renditions, characterizations, and his emphasis on the
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storyline converge into a wonderful heartwarming work of art.
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LibraryThing member gjchauvin504
A wonderful story that teaches kids about individuality. The message that comes through says even though no one is perfect, they can find their own voice in the world. This is a story of courage, honesty, redemption, and most of all, love. I was touched by Louis' determination to repay his father's
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debt and impressed with his strength and character. Kids and adults will love this classic by E.B White and it makes a great addition to your collection. "The Trumpet of the Swan" has my highest recommendation because it teaches as it entertains.
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LibraryThing member ascott68
This is a beautiful story about a swan named Louis who is born without a voice. With the help of his human friend Sam, Louis learns to read and write in order to communicate. He also learns to play the trumpet to communicate with other swans. He triumphs over many obstacles, and in the end, begins
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his own family with his long time swan love, Serena.

I read this story as a child, and it was just as exciting and endearing to read it again as an adult. E.B. White is a master at making animals human-like, and his stories draw the reader in so much, they forget the characters are animals at all!

In the classroom, I would like to do an activity where the students would give different animals certain instruments to be their voices. EX....a bird would have the voice of a whistle. An elephant would have the voice of a trombone. Maybe we could even have an animal band with real instruments and parade around the room!
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LibraryThing member raymondh
This is a very good book if you like kind of sad book.In some places it leaves you in suspens.
LibraryThing member dbhutch
This is the classic story of the trumpet of the swan... Louis was born with no voice and for him to have a voice his father "the old cob" fly to a near by town and stole a trumpet so his son could speak. Louis went to school to learn to read and write and used a slate and chalk pencil. Louis work
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jobs one summer to make the money back to pay the store owner back and his father took a slate that said what the money was for to the store owner and paid it back ........ was a very good story.
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LibraryThing member worrellw
I know it's a classic but I didn't love it.
LibraryThing member caltstatt
This is a tale of a young Trumpeter swan who does not have a voice. He makes friends with a young boy named, Sam, who helps him go to school so he can read and write. Louis, the swan, is satisfied with this for a short while until he cannot court a lovely female because he has no voice. Louis's
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father flies to a music store and steals a trumpet. Louis learns to play the trumpet and has many adventures playing it and earning money to pay for it. He finally does and his father is able to take the money back to the music store. Louis wins the heart of the lovely swan and they live happily ever after.

Younger students would like this tale of abnormal behavior from the swans. They could also learn the correct terminology of the different kinds of swans.
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LibraryThing member allisonmclean
I remember my second grade teacher reading me this book. I loved it then and haven't read it since, so I was excited to revisit it. There are things about it that I still love, but there was also some of it that irked me a little. Some of that could just be that it is a book from it's time (1970),
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but there are some aspects that don't hold well over time, especially the author's characterization of the female characters in the book. And also the way it talked about Louis "donating" his own children to the zoo. That seemed a little heartless. I know I'm being overly critical of such a sweet, heartwarming, story, but those were some of the things that stood out to me.
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LibraryThing member avry15
Think of your most vital sense (sight, hearing, talking, taste and touch), imagine it gone, what would you do? The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White is a book that you’d definitely read. This is a story with lots of good moral values, inspiring and the noblest of adventure and desire that would
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surely uplift one’s spirit.
The Trumpet of the Swan is a story about Louis, a Trumpeter Swan and his adventure to find his own voice and pursue his dreams. He was born without a voice, unable to make the honking cry that marks his species. He ventured on to overcome his defect by learning to play a trumpet, and try to impress a beautiful swan named Serena.
In Canada, on the first day of spring, the cob (adult male swan) and the pen (adult female swan), members of sub-species Trumpeter Swan built their nest on a small island in a pond. Sam Beaver, an 11-year-old boy on a camping trip, observed and saved the female from being attacked by a fox. When the eggs hatched, all of the cygnets (baby swans), chirped at Sam in greeting, except for the youngest, who can make no sound and pulled his shoelace instead, the youngest who was named, Louis.
At the end of summer, the swan family migrated to Red Rock Lakes in Montana. Louis decided he should learn to read and write in order to communicate, so Sam took Louis to school and bought him a slate and chalk to write. This was a help, but when he greet his family using it, they didn’t understand because they didn’t know how to read. Most of all, it did not aid Louis in winning the heart of the beautiful swan he had fallen in love. He had written the words “I love you” in the slate, and Serena just stared at it and swam away. He was the best swimmer and the handsomest among the swans, but without a voice to profess his love, Serena didn’t notice him at all.
In a dramatic scene of broken glass and a fainting salesgirl, Louis's father did a difficult thing - he put honor aside and stole a trumpet so his son would be able to woo his love. Louis feels guilty about his father's theft, but accepts the instrument. Serena has migrated north, so Louis returns to Sam's ranch. Sam suggests that Louis get a job so he can pay the store for the trumpet and the damaged window. Louis's determination to become a trumpeter to get the attention of his one true love and pay off his father's debt takes him far from the wilderness he loves. And a series of adventure and music wound its way into Louis’ life.
Although I can’t tell you how the story ends, I’ll give you the descriptions of the characters. Louis’ father was the running gag in the story, with his tremendous and flowery speeches; he captured the reader’s attention. The speeches were poetic and often carried a sense of humor and behind the words, lay a deep meaning of life’s reality. He was full of himself, and forever will be proud of his family, especially Louis. He loves to hear praises from his wife and children, and is a loving father. And of course his wife, who is the sensible of the two, that keeps reminding his husband of the mistakes of his words. She was a depiction of a good-natured mother, always protecting for her children and caring for her husband. Meanwhile, Serena was the beautiful, sophisticated swan Louis had fallen in love.
Sam, the only human to whom the story revolves, is always at bay, always helping Louis in his obstacles. He had desires and fondness towards animals and carried with him a diary that he likes to write at night. As the story progresses, we were also aware of Sam’s growth from an eleven-year-old boy into a full-grown man.
My favorite character is Louis. He had always been the gentleman with wild dreams and the courage to prove himself worthy of respect from the other trumpeter swans, inspite of his disability. He had continued to be kind and hopeful and still believe in his dreams, that there’s nothing so big, a swan cannot do. He is smart, loving, family-centered and cared for dignity and guilt and he is thankful for whatever that happens to him.
It is unusual to have a trumpet-playing swan in a story. But the way E. B. White writes about how the swans think is excellent. Louis’s thoughts and his emotions are both like that of a true person. There are many vivid descriptions in the book that make you reluctant to put the book down. Also, how E. B. White made the swans think and talk is amazing.
The largest swans on Earth, with a wingspan reaching eight feet, all white but its beak and feet, so graceful, so strong, so scorning of human attention, the trumpeters occupy a universe that brushes only briefly against our own. E.B. White's wonderful story of Louis's struggle to express the music in his heart is a tribute to courage, to freedom, to love - and to swans everywhere.
Is a musical instrument the key to winning Louis his love and his dreams? Could it be the one to bring his father’s honor back and win the acceptance of his fellow trumpeters? If you love animals, especially birds and wants something to inspire you on your journey, struggle or pursuit, then you should read The Trumpet of the Swan and find out for yourself.
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LibraryThing member themulhern
Good because so well written. The quick changes from high-flown to common language are enjoyable. E. B. White seems to have a low opinion of Philadelphia. Strange that he has a higher opinion of New York.
LibraryThing member jjallen
It was really good and definitely a classic.
LibraryThing member libraryofus
Perhaps the least well-known of White's popular trio of books (not least, I suspect, because as far as I know it's never been adapted into movie form, though (cynicism to the contrary) that may be effect instead of cause), Trumpet of the Swan is still a very enjoyable book. In its story, a young
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swan learns to cope with a handicap - he has no voice - and discovers he can, in fact, learn to please his father, succeed in the world as a whole, and even win the heart of his beloved. Very uplifting, really, if more than a little dated.
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LibraryThing member Astolot_Andrea
maybe don't use, it is about fitting in and disability but tends to show the negative side and leaves Louis feeling like he must change to fit in.
LibraryThing member mamashepp
E.B. White writes an children's novel that here has no human characters but is so easy for children to relate to. My son loved it so much that he cried when it was done because he was sad to have it over. We had to re-read it immediately.
LibraryThing member joli
touching little tale..doubly so now with avian flu being spread by our great winged migrators..
LibraryThing member k8seren
When I was a little girl, my Daddy read this to me. Honestly, I don't remember a whole lot of the story, but I remember sitting on my bed with my Dad and listening to him read it. And for that, I love this book.
LibraryThing member lpicke2
I liked this chapter book. I really liked the plot of the story because it shows how much trouble Louis had to overcome in order to get the attention of the swan he was attracted to. I also liked the illustrations even though they were in black and white because they helped add to the story by
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having a visual. The big idea is that you can do anything you set your mind to.
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