The Trumpet of the Swan

By E.B. White


Sam Beaver, an 11-year old boy who is on a camping trip with his father, is exploring in the wilderness of Canada one day when he sees a cob, an adult male trumpeter swan, and a pen, an adult female trumpeter swan, swimming around in a small pond. The pen has a nest with four eggs. He returns a few days later and sees the pen has laid another egg. When the cygnets are born, Sam discovers that one of them can’t seem to make a noise. At this time, the book switches over to the cob’s point of view. One of his cygnets, Louis, is mute.

The swan parents are worried as Louis grows. They are afraid he will not be able to find a mate because he can’t make a trumpet sound that all male trumpeter swans make to attract mates. When the family flies to their winter refuge, Louis decides to fly away and go to Sam’s school. He wants to learn to read and write so he can communicate with his family.

When Louis returns to the refuge, he is sad because he realizes that his family cannot read what he writes. Now he is ready to have a family of his own, and notices a beautiful swan named Serena. She doesn’t notice him because he can’t make a trumpet noise.

Louise’s dad decides to get Louis a trumpet. After some fuss, he steals a trumpet for Louis, but Louis is horrified. The trumpet cost $900, and Louis is determined to pay it back.

Louis travels all around, earning money and learning to play his trumpet. Finally, he pays off his debt. While he was at the Philadelphia Zoo, a hard storm comes and Serena, who was migrating, falls out of the sky. She is exhausted. Quickly, Louis wins her heart with his beautiful trumpet playing. He goes with his new mate, Serena, back to his birthplace. Louis and Serena have a family of their own and live happily ever after.

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