Elementary: Great For All

The Trumpet of the Swan

E. B. White
1970

Adventure

Courage

Financial Literacy

Resilience

Animals

Environment & Conservation

E.B. White wrote three novels for children. You probably know Charlottes Web and Stuart Little. Now is the time to discover or re-visit the equally special The Trumpet of the Swan.

The book starts with the young Sam Beaver, a budding naturalist who witnesses a pair of Trumpeter Swans, nesting by a little pond in the wilds of Canada.

Not many people in the world have seen the nest of a Trumpeter Swan. Sam had found one on a lonely pond on this day in spring. He had seen the two great white birds with their long white necks and black bills. Nothing he had ever seen before in all his life had made him feel quite the way he felt, on that wild little pond, in the presence of those two enormous swans.

Through Sam’s patient, curious, observant eyes we learn to see and appreciate nature, quietly and privately.

Then we meet Cygnus Buccinator, the adult male swan who is anything but quiet and private. He, along with his endlessly patient mate, welcome five cygnets into their family.

“Welcome to the pond and the swamp adjacent,” he said. “Welcome to the world that contains this lonely pond, this splendid marsh, unspoiled and wild! Welcome to sunlight and shadow, wind and weather; welcome to water!”

And that is only the beginning of his grand welcoming speech. When the cob discovers that their son, Louis, has been born without the ability to honk, the father will stop at nothing to ensure his son can communicate, even if that means crashing through a music store window and stealing a trumpet.

Almost everybody has a money problem…

We spend the rest of the book with the resourceful Louis and his quest to express himself, to earn the money to pay for his stolen trumpet, and eventually to woo the swan of his desiring. His adventures take him from the wilds of Canada, to a summer camp in the Great Lakes, to the Boston Public Garden (and a night in the Ritz Hotel!), and even to a jazz club in Philadelphia.

“Some of his notes are like jewels held up to the light.”

Schools and families will benefit from spending time with E. B. White’s charming prose. The Trumpet of the Swan appeals to a broad range of students as it includes comedy (ordering room service), drama (a hurricane), an appreciation of nature (Sam Beaver’s journal), and enterprise (Louis works no less than three jobs). There are also sweet illustrations from Fred Marcellino to support younger listeners.

In addition to the rich set of family literacy resources Read to Them provides, we have also created a set of financial literacy materials so your school can use Louis’s enterprising adventures to study math and economics, along with nature and music.

We invite you to return to bucolic yesteryear, and share The Trumpet of Swan with your school community of readers.

Additional Options

  • Title available in Spanish
  • Includes Financial Literacy resources

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