52. The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White

The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White. Pictures by Edward Frascino (Canada) - (US)

Pages: 210
Ages: 8+
Finished: Mar. 1, 2011
First Published: 1970
Publisher: Scholastic
Genre: children, animal fantasy
Rating: 5/5

First sentence:

Walking back to camp through the swamp, Sam wondered whether to tell his father what he had seen.

Acquired: Purchased a used copy at a book/garage sale or thrift shop.

Reason for Reading: I've picked a bookshelf to randomly read my own books from this year and this is my first read from that shelf. This is a perennial favourite of mine.

I've read this several times now. Originally as a child, then as an adult, again as a read aloud to my eldest son, and now once more and the book still has not lost its charm for me. This is going to make a nice bedtime read for dh and ds and I'll be putting it in their pile. Trumpet is my favourite of White's three children's novels. Louis is an unassuming hero, with a sense of right and wrong, dignity and someone who works hard to get what he wants out of life. Born without a voice, he gets by until he is old enough for mating season. Then, of course, he can't attract the female he is in love with so his father heads to the city and steals a trumpet for him. Louis is so thankful, he learns to play, but first he must earn money to pay back his father's debt both for the trumpet and the damage he did to the store and thus follows the story of Louis' adventures as he earns a living at various venues first playing as a bugler and then after a slight operation to one foot learning the full use of the trumpet. He becomes famous in the towns and cities he plays in but his heart is always set on earning the money, so he can get back to his family and his lady love. He also repeatedly is assisted and visited by Sam Beaver, a boy he met when he was just a newly hatched gosling.

It is a simple story, possibly considered slow to some compared to more modern fare but it tells a good tale. It's a story of good people, animals mostly with good human qualities and both Sam and Louis are good role models, they type of person we all want to be like someday. Though written in the seventies, there isn't really much to place the story in time. There are a few instances when this is brought to the reader's attention; I remember the word "hippie" but otherwise the book is quaint and could be taking place in any time period of the more mannered, politer past. A lovely story, sure to be enjoyed by animal lovers.

One of my goals in reading books from this random shelf is to move books out of the house that are not going to be part of my permanent collection, but this one is a keeper. I had wanted to get the hardcover, collector's edition to match Charlotte's Web & Stuart Little that I have, which have both been respectfully colourized. But when I saw the hardcover version of this I also saw that the illustrations had been completely redone by a new illustrator so I took a pass on getting that version. In fact, the paperback versions include the new illustrations as well. The original illustrations don't seem to be available in any currently available new editions. So I'm keeping this edition, which is the exact same one that I had as a kid.


  1. I discovered this book as an adult when I read it to my boys. Love it!

  2. I have to admit that I have only ever read Charlotte's Web! Should read more....


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