October 08, 2011

The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White

This book makes you suspend reality a bit, but it is a very nice read and entirely unique. I remember reading it as a child and liking the tale, and some words from the book always stuck in my head ("Montana banana banana!").

Louis is a Trumpeter Swan who cannot trumpet. That's right, he was born without the ability of speech. To overcome this, he enlists the help of a boy who saw his birth, Sam Beaver, and sets out to go to school to learn to read and write. Finding this skill is not good enough in the swan community though, his father robs a music store and brings him back a trumpet so that he may make noise too. Louis loves his trumpet but feels deeply terrible about what his father had to do. He decides to take jobs and earn money to pay the shopkeeper back and so begins his adventure of traveling around, earning money, and pleasing people. One thing is foremost in his mind though, to gain the love of Serena, a beautiful swan back home.

Louis is a very interesting swan and he would have to be with all of the things he does in this book. His father is a little more annoying though and I'm quite glad that he plays a small role in the book. But one thing that really disturbs me about this book (and could be a spoiler) is that Louis makes an agreement to give the zoo some of his babies, in return for his wife's freedom. That just sounds horribly like child slavery to me (well at least for swans) and kind of dampened the book for me while reading it as an adult. It was just disturbing.

The writing is appropriate for children although there is a derogatory comment about hippies and a few other strange things in the book. Mostly though it is an adventuresome tale about a special swan and it could teach a few lessons in how to treat animals.

I do like the book and think its charming. Definitely a good read for a rainy day.

The Trumpet of the Swan
Copyright 1970
210 pages

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