Trumpet of the Swan
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of E.B. White's The Trumpet of the Swan, a book though perhaps not as well known as Charlotte's Web or Stuart Little is nevertheless brilliant. It tells the story of Louis, a trumpeter swan, who for some reason is born without a voice. Over the course of the book he learns to express himself in his own unique fashion, first by playing an actual brass trumpet (his father nabs it for him at a music store) and then by learning to read and write.
There are White's usual gorgeous descriptions of nature, like this one: The sun shone down, strong and steady. Ice was melting; patches of open water appeared on the pond. Louis and Serena felt the changing world, and they stirred with new life and rapture and hope. There was a smell in the air, a smell of earth waking after its long winter. There's the fun of a good story, expertly told. And for me, the parent of a son on the autism spectrum, there's a special resonance and poignancy to the plot. It is, after all, the tale of someone who can't communicate the way his peers do, but who finds his own path to making himself understood. In the end, we all find our voice.
Happy 50th birthday, Louis the swan!