The trumpet of the swan by

3 June 2010

Call no:
Illustrator :
Rated :

ISBN: 0140362746

Sam Beaver is eleven years old when out exploring a Canadian swamp he comes across a bird’s nest, a Trumpeter Swan’s nest to be specific, and in it are 5 eggs. Sam is delighted; he loves nature and keeps a careful watch being careful not to upset the swans. He even saves the nest from a fox attack. And when the eggs hatch he is even more entranced by the cygnets. But one of them has a problem, Louis has been born without a voice, and so Sam decides to help him out. He takes him to school and helps him learn to read and write, now he can communicate through a slate & chalk. Then his father gets him a trumpet and Louis learns to play it, so he can win the love of Serena.

Many, many years ago a teacher read this book to her class. I don’t remember what class I was in when I listened to it, but I’m pretty sure I was still living in Dublin, so I’ll guess first or second class. That is a long, long time ago; around 25 years maybe, a long time to remember a book. I guess you could say it made a good impression on me.

And I’m delighted that reading all these years later I can still say that I love it. It is just delightful. The descriptions of the vain but goodhearted cob. His sensible, practical wife, and their attempts t make Louis feel good despite his “defect”. I have to admit I did wince a little at seeing him described as defective for not having a voice, but it is said with love, and it was a different time I suppose.

In many ways it reminded me of when I read The little white horse[1] in that it is dated, and in many ways totally unlike modern books, but there is just such a charm to it. And there is also some lovely humour.

Also the internal illustrations from Edward Frascino are just lovely.

Other reviews: None found; if you’ve reviewed leave a comment letting me know & I’ll add a link.


  1. My review

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4 Responses

  1. Kelly says:

    I read this book several times when I was young, probably around the same age you were when your teacher read it. I loved it, too… It wasn't my favorite like Charlotte's Web was, but it still came in before Stuart Little. It's a lovely quiet story, isn't it? I was so happy to come over and see it here! An old friend. :)
    .-= Kelly´s last blog ..Pudgy toes =-.

  2. Richard R. says:

    I haven't read this one, though I have heard of it, but when I read your review – sorry for this – it seemed you were saying the boy taught the swan hatchling how to read and write so it could communicate with a chalkboard… I know that can't be right. I opened to the full review, but it's the same way. Does he boy help the little swan, or is it just the adult who helps the boy, or…?
    .-= Richard R.´s last blog ..FFB will be early =-.

    • Fence says:

      Well the boy takes him to a school and the teacher teaches the swan.

      But you were probably wondering about a swan learning to communicate :) It is a children's book, and the author also wrote Stuart Little & Charlotte's Web, if that helps you get a sense of what it might be like.