May 26, 2021

Louis the trumpeter swan is different from the other swans.

He’s born without a voice.

He realizes that he must learn how to communicate with the other swans and find ways to overcome his difficulty.

Louis’ father matter-of-factly lets him know that he is different from the other swans and he does not need to be sad about it. He encourages him to realize that having a speech defect means that he has an advantage—he can be a good listener.

His father promises to help him to get a trumpet. And so, the adventure begins.

We meet Sam Beaver, a boy who lives and breathes nature. He helps Louis find the tools he’ll need to communicate, like learning to read and write. Louis starts to use a slate and chalk to talk

But swans can’t read.

Like Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little, classics also by E.B. White, the animals are just like humans and so delightfully charming. They are funny, thoughtful, endearing and the tale is magical.

I loved this book when I read it as a child and my kids loved it too.

There is something so touching about a swan learning to read, write and play music, so he can attract a mate.

I have a faded old copy with fantastic black and white pictures (by Edward Frascino). Of the many editions, I’d recommend one of the older ones as it lends to the charm of this classic book which is over 50 years old.

In re-reading it again as an adult there were some parts that didn’t make sense. Like why would Louis make an agreement with the zoo keeper for one of his cygnets to live in captivity when he fought so hard for his mate’s and his own freedom?

However, the fantasy elements take care of so much, and we are left in awe of Louis’ perseverance, and the fun and imaginative ways that he overcomes his challenges to have a full and happy life.

This classic is a gem filled with deep passages like this one, that remind us to live each moment full of gratitude for what we have:

“As Louis relaxed and prepared for sleep, all his thoughts were of how lucky he was to inhabit such a beautiful earth, how lucky he had been to solve his problems with music, and how pleasant it was to look forward to another night of sleep and another day tomorrow, and the fresh morning, and the light that returns with the day.”

Helps with: celebrating differences, listening, finding your voice, friendship, overcoming adversity, the importance of honesty, knowing right from wrong, taking care of nature, accepting others, gratitude and kindness.