With Throwback Thursdays, we choose a book we remember fondly and recommend it to our adoring readers, featuring books not currently on the best seller list. I made a list of books I might want to feature on here, and I noticed I kept picking books I want my kids to read, so I think I might focus my Thursdays on kids’ novels or picture books. Last week, I featured Charlotte’s Web, and today I want to talk about another E.B. White favorite, The Trumpet of the Swan.
The Trumpet of the Swan tells of an unlikely friendship between a young boy, Sam Beaver, and a family of trumpeter swans in the wilds of Canada. Upon watching a pair of the beautiful birds make a nest and start their family, Sam saves the mother swan from certain death by throwing a stick at a fox, hitting it square on the nose before it could attack. This heroic effort labels Sam a friend to the swans, and they eventually introduce him to their children, including one who couldn’t trumpet – Louis.
Louis struggles early in life to find his voice. He cannot say, “Ko-hoh!” like all of his peers, and he wants desperately for a beautiful swan named Serena to notice him. Louis’s father decides to find him a trumpet. His father risks life and limb to steal a trumpet from a music shop in Billings, Montana, and slowly, Louis learns to play. Louis travels across the country playing his trumpet and trying to make enough money to pay back his father’s debt. He enlists help from Sam Beaver along the way, even learning to read and write.
The Trumpet of the Swan is such an endearing tale of heroism, friendship, and stewardship. Louis shows an earnestness to do the right thing, and Sam is one of the sweetest, nature-loving boys in all of literature. His curiosity of nature and its creatures does not detract from his gentleness. I love the other characters, too. Louis’s father, the cobb, is noble to the point of absurdity, giving over-the-top dramatic monologues. And his wife, gentle and loving, deals with his grandiose speeches in stride.
E.B. White, one of my favorite authors, writes directly and simply so that children can understand each and every word, but the language is dense and rich at the same time. His books beg to be read aloud. Over and over again.