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The Trumpet of the Swan

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  65,824 ratings  ·  2,136 reviews
Swan Song

Like the rest of his family, Louis is a trumpeter swan. But unlike his four brothers and sisters, Louis can't trumpet joyfully. In fact, he can't even make a sound. And since he can't trumpet his love, the beautiful swan Serena pays absolutely no attention to him.

Louis tries everything he can think of to win Serena's affection—he even goes to school to learn to
Paperback, 252 pages
Published October 3rd 2000 by HarperCollins (first published 1970)
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Average rating 4.08  · 
Rating details
 ·  65,824 ratings  ·  2,136 reviews

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Jul 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: hardcore bitches who like swans (which is all of them)
This is the funniest shit, I swear. The humor in this book is surreal. The cob has me in stitches with his over-the-top florid speeches, but it's the little details that kill me. Like how nobody goes crazy when a bird learns how to read and write "catastrophe." Or like when Louis spends the night at the Ritz, he goes to take a shower and he draws the curtain. HE DRAWS THE CURTAIN. I'm like, LOUIS, YOU ARE A SWAN. You've been naked since the day you were hatched, and all the millions of times ...more
Ty Melgren
Aug 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
I have no idea how I managed to not read this as a kid. It's way more fun than Stuart Little, not nearly as sad/good as Charlotte's Web, but almost as funny. Maybe funnier, actually. Just like in Charlotte's Web, E.B. ends the book with a calm, beautiful, somewhat embarrassing paragraph that I want to fall asleep under, and this time I printed it off and taped it to my wall so that I actually can. You can too:
Apr 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm re-reading this with my kid. I loved this book when I read it as a child. An all time childhood favorite. I really enjoy it now, especially all the literary and biblical references I didn't get when I was Nicco's age. I love the over the top flowery sentiments of Louis' father. It did seem much more exciting and dangerous when I was young, and I COMPLETELY missed the disturbing hipocrisy of Louis, the weak and defected cygnet among his siblings, agreeing to sell his own future weak offspring ...more
Sep 11, 2009 rated it it was ok
I read this book to my kids at bedtime over a few months and I found kind of disappointing although my kids seemed to really like it. It's imaginative and has a few good characters (my personal favorite was Louis' dad), but I have several complaints:
1) The "romance" with Serena REALLY irritated me - not only was there nothing redeeming about her other than her looks, it was ridiculous that she "blew off course" while in Montana and just happened to end up at the Philadelphia zoo.
2) I had moral
The incomparable classic children's author, E.B. White, wrote not only a delightful fantasy in Charlotte's Web but also in this book, The Trumpet of the Swan. This book would be a wonderful read-aloud for young elementary students as well as a great chapter book for older elementary readers. Louis, a swan, is born without a voice. Yet through ingenuity and a touch of fantasy he finds ways to live a full life as well as woo the beautiful swan he falls in love with as he gets older. This book ...more
What a wonderful book! I’m a bit ashamed that I struggled to find an interest in even starting it and now in my forties this is my first experience with this gem. Thankfully, it was a read aloud with my kids. There is much to love and appreciate in this children’s classic including overcoming adversity, good work ethics, honesty, perseverance, unselfishness, honor, family, love, trust, and so much more.

*Side note: I’m still giggling about the Dad’s long monologues.

*P.S. The audio version is
If I read this book as a child, I probably didn't make it very far. My reasoning would likely have been "It's no Charlotte's Web", one of my all-time favorite children's stories. "Where's Wilbur? Is Charlotte going to appear?" (view spoiler)

A young boy named Sam Beaver discovers some swans, one of whom is named Louis. Poor Louis is, as everyone likes to remind him, defective because he can't make swan-noises. But he doesn't let that
Apr 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens
I typically don't review children's books here unless they are very long or very good. This book is both. I'm not sure how I escaped reading this as a child but I'm certain that I didn't because the story is unique and memorable. Louis, a trumpeter swan born without a voice, employs determination and smarts to remedy this obstacle and win the heart of his love, all the while embarking on adventures and working to right wrongs along the way. My 8 year old daughter said "this book teaches children ...more
Dec 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book growing up and was a little afraid to re-read it for fear that the memory would not live up to the reality. But I needn't have worried....this is such a delightful fun story! Who could not fall in love with Louis the swan as he searches for a way to communicate since he was born without a voice. I listened to the audiobook narrated by the author. I loved every minute of it - it felt like grandpa telling me a story. A 5 star experience!!!
Rebecca McNutt
I've loved this book ever since I was a little kid; Trumpet of the Swan, from the author who brought Charlotte's Web and Staurt Little to the world, is a classic about self-esteem, love and acceptance, with an almost fairy tale quality to it.
Sep 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What a treat to listen to this endearing and timeless story narrated by the author. It was quite a surprise, after downloading the book simply because the book cover shows a swan holding a trumpet under his wing. I loved Louie and his adventure.
Jennifer Fertig
Oct 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Best first chapter of a book ever written.
Izzy Smith
Nov 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
I thought it was very good. And I also thought that Louie was very funny! I liked how the story was about swans, because swans are very unusual animals to write about. ...more
A story about overcoming adversity. How do you find a mate without a voice, if you are a swan? Your father knows to make speeches and eventually steals a trumpet for you. This is a zany story of a swan who can talk and play the trumpet.

I enjoyed the story and this was 75 pages too long. The book should have ended long before it did. The last scene with the father was so unnecessary and that part dragged.

There is something powerful about overcoming a handicap. Louis didn't get mad or lash out at
Sep 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people who like swans, trumpets
Recommended to C. by: my mom gave it to me for my birthday
So the swan named Louis, he went around with a slate because he didn't have any voice. And he tried so hard and but he couldn't talk. He got a trumpet and a slate, a gold medal for saving someone's life, and guess what? He got a money bag because his father stole the trumpet. That's it. It's a five star book because I liked it a lot. My favorite part is when he broke in the door and then the owner of the store came after him and he got the trumpet and he went away. I know that is stealing but ...more
Joey T
Mar 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fam-owns-it, classics
Another great children’s story! Appropriate for all ages ...more
Nicola Mansfield
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
Jul 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was far better than Stuart Little in the fact it had an actually ending, but it wasn't as good as Charlotte's Web I thought. I really liked the parts with Boston and the Swan Boats (if you haven't been and need something family friendly to do...). Having ducks, I found this amusing too. Okay my ducks aren't swans, but maybe I can give them all trumpets and start a band.
Esther May
Apr 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
The Trumpet of the Swan is an absolutely fabulous book. All children, and parents of children should read it. Louis, a swan, was born without a voice. After becoming aware of this his father said: "Do not let an unnatural sadness settle over you, Louis. Swans must be cheerful, not sad; graceful, not awkward; brave, not cowardly. Remember that the world is full of youngsters who have some sort of handicap that they must overcome. You apparently have a speech defect. I am sure you will overcome ...more
Melissa McShane
I read this for the 2016 YA/MG Book Battle.

This was cute, but ultimately too self-conscious to appeal to me. I did love it when Louis, the swan who’s been accumulating possessions that hang around his neck, starts listing them off and then says “I’m beginning to look like a hippie.” But there’s no real tension in this book, Louis’s path is unhindered by serious challenges, and he even gets the girl swan of his dreams through an unrealistic weather contrivance. It’s all a little too easy. What
Somehow I missed this one growing up! Sadly, I think this is one of those times where that made a difference. I wasn't as willing to go with the implausible parts of a story that seems set in the real world. I wasn't sure I wanted to root for Louis and Serena. I am not sure I buy their love story!

And I didn't like (view spoiler).
Mekiah Johnson
Feb 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-stars
From my memory, this books just comes off as my favorite E.B White book, but now that I think about that, I think I'll have to ponder on that a little bit longer.
This book was great, all I have to say. His works are classics for a reason.
Jo Lisa
Apr 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Read at school to students..
Finished April 3rd..
None of the books I checked out from the library today felt right for this evening, so I browsed my personal bookshelf and The Trumpet of the Swan jumped out at me right away. As a child, I loved this book, but I haven't read it since the Battle of the Books in fifth grade. Some of the images were so vivid to fifth grade me, that they remained the same despite the 20 years that have passed: the cob flying into the music store and Louis asking Sam to slit his webbed feet were two that ...more
Dec 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Eric
Recommended to Jeana by: Bianca Quigley
Shelves: kids-books
Bianca says it's a tie between Trumpet of the Swan and Charlotte's Web for her favorite book. She "recommended" it to me after her third reading. And it was so worth it. This is a charming, remarkable little book about a mute swan who overcomes his difficulties and perseveres. I love how White takes real-life challenges and makes them fun and accessible with animals. I wish I had read this one as a child. I think it should be mandatory reading for all kids, along with Charlotte's Web of course. ...more
Absolutely adorable! Why did I never read this book as a kid? Seriously, it was so cute! What could be better than a Trumpeter swan who has a speech impediment and overcomes it by learning to read, write and, you guessed it, play the trumpet?? This is a coming-of-age story about a young swan--and it is just so much fun! The characters are fun, Louis is a treat, Louis' dad is hilarious, my kids LOVED listening to the story and couldn't wait until reading time!
Catherine ♡
Nov 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This was such a beautiful story about love, friendship, justice, and bravery.

And I think what it was really successful in doing was showing the reader the point of view of these swans, these animals. We see what it'd be like to be them and to live in captivity, to have our wings clipped - and us (as in humans) became the enemy.

I think that's amazing.
Feb 27, 2017 rated it liked it
This was a silly story, but a sweet and rather touching one as well. It's cute, but the family feels here are really strong. In most stories, a character like the swan dad would just be annoying and overblown, but here he's just a good person (animal) who wants to help his family, even if he is annoying as hell.

Seriously, I did not think this story would move me this much.
Oct 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book used to mesmerize me as a child, and I would read it at least once a year for most of my childhood. I will definitely buy this book someday, in order to either read it to my own children, or have them read it on their own. So charming, and such a heartwarming story.
Feb 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-grade, animal
I had somehow never heard of this book! It was really cute, and while it wasn't as poignant as Charlotte's Web, it still had great messages and humor. Plus, who can resist a trumpter swan that plays Gershwin?
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Elwyn Brooks White was a leading American essayist, author, humorist, poet and literary stylist and author of such beloved children's classics as Charlotte's Web, Stuart Little, and The Trumpet of the Swan. He graduated from Cornell University in 1921 and, five or six years later, joined the staff of The New Yorker magazine. He authored over seventeen books of prose and poetry and was elected to ...more
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“The world is full of talkers, but it is rare to find anyone who listens. And I assure you that you can pick up more information when you are listening than when you are talking.” 19 likes
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