Book #49: The Trumpet of the Swan

Are you one of those people who hate talking animal stories?  Or super smart animals?  Well, you still might like The Trumpet of the Swan by E. B. White.  Everyone knows about Charlotte’s Web by the same author, but I wonder how many people know about this beautiful little book.  These two are my favorites by E. B. White, with Stuart Little a very distant third.

There’s so much to love about The Trumpet of the Swan.  I love that Louis’ father is willing to do whatever it takes to give his son opportunities despite his disability.  I love that Louis is willing to work as long and as hard as he must to pay his father’s debt and to make a life for himself.  I love that Louis uses all the resources available to him.  I love that everyone he encounters is totally open-minded about a trumpet-playing, literate swan.  I just love this book so much.

When we discussed this in my book group, the kids didn’t really think of Louis as disabled.  We did a simulation where everyone had a disability.  Some kids were mute, some were deaf (with noise-cancelling ear phones on), and some were blindfolded.  I gave them a series of tasks to accomplish.  It was hard and frustrating and when we talked about it after, they bemoaned not being able to do more for themselves, how dependent they were on others and how tempting it was to cheat on their limitations.  Then we correlated that to Louis trying to get a job, pay his debts, defend himself against unscrupulous people and ultimately win over Serena, his true love.  It’s twice as hard when you have the cards stacked against you.

A wonderful book and a great read aloud, I highly recommend it.  There’s also a wonderful audio play production by Jason Robert Brown, John Lithgow, Kathy Bates and others that is just beautiful.  Symphonic and lyrical and very well-acted, I bought it years ago and we’ve listened to it three or four times.

Goodreads rating: 5 stars


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