The Trumpet of the Swan

By E.B. White (1970)

E.B. White wrote three novels for children. They’re all classics, but only Charlotte’s Web is ubiquitously known. And that makes The Trumpet of the Swan an ideal first choice for One School, One Book. (Stuart Little is less ideal because many children will already be familiar with the recent film adaptation.)

The Trumpet of the Swan has three things going for it. The protagonist Sam Beaver, through whose patient, curious, observant eyes we learn to see and appreciate nature, quietly and privately. Louis the Swan, born without a honk, he learns to communicate anyway through the aid of a trumpet. His adventures will take you from the wilds of Canada and Montana all the way to the Ritz Hotel in Boston, Mass. And of course, there is E.B. White’s sterling and matchless prose.

One virtue of The Trumpet of the Swan, making it ideal for One School, One Book, is that while Sam Beaver’s naturalistic curiosity and journaling will intrigue older listeners, Louis the Swan’s antics (at camp, at the zoo) will enthrall younger listeners. Parents will take vicarious pleasure when their children are thus intrigued and enthralled by E.B. White’s lesser known classic.