One day on a Canadian lake, a cob (male swan) and a pen (female swan) are saved by a boy named Sam from a fox. Sam is allowed to watch the swans' cygnets (baby swans) hatch, and it is discovered that one of them is mute. Instead of chirping to greet him, the mute cygnet pulls Sam's shoelace. [[CutenessProximity Awww.]] Thus begins an OddFriendship between swan and boy.

The story focuses on the swan, named Louis, and his efforts to overcome his handicap. Sam takes Louis to school so the bird can learn to read and write, and Louis's father steals a brass trumpet to give his son a voice. Louis feels guilty about the theft, so at Sam's suggestion he takes several jobs across America to pay for the trumpet. Adventures are had by all.

There is an animated [[TheFilmOfTheBook film adaptation]] by the director of ''WesternAnimation/TheSwanPrincess''.

Compare to E.B. White's more famous novel, ''Literature/CharlottesWeb''.
!!! This work provides examples of:

* AdaptationalAngstUpgrade: Louis doesn't interact much with his swan peers in the novel. In the animated adaptation, he has a case of AllOfTheOtherReindeer because his peers (sans his family and Serena) find him weird that he's mute.
* AdaptationalHeroism: In the novel, Serena [[AllOfTheOtherReindeer refuses to interact with Louis]] because of his disability, and Louis wins her over simply by revealing that he can play the trumpet. In the film, Serena is much more sympathetic to Louis and a {{jerkass}} rival named Boyd is added instead.
* AllOfTheOtherReindeer: Due to LostInTranslation. Louis is mute, and Serena can't read, so his attempts to talk to her fall flat and she assumes he's not interested in her.
* AmazingTechnicolorWildlife: To a lesser extent. In the film a lot of swans have some additional color on their feathers besides white. For instance, Louis has yellow, his sisters have peach pink and green, and Boyd has bright red.
* AmplifiedAnimalAptitude: Louis and others. When his father breaks into a shop to steal the trumpet, he flies away feeling guilty for the crime.
* AnimalTalk
* AwardBaitSong: "Touch the Sky" from the film.
* BabiesEverAfter
* TheBully: Boyd in the film.
* ConspicuousCG: In the film.
* ContrivedCoincidence: Serena just happens to get blown by storm all the way to the Philadelphia zoo.
* DisabilitySuperpower: Because he is mute, Louis learns to read and write English, skills the other swans do not possess.
* DistantFinale: Sam is 11 in the beginning and 20 by the end of the novel. Averted in the film, which ends with him still a kid.
* EdutainmentShow: Like ''Literature/MobyDick'' for kids, but with swans instead of whales.
* FatBastard: The Big City Agent.
* FatIdiot: The agent is this too.
* FeatherFingers: Played straight in the [[TheFilmOfTheBook film adaptation]], but averted in the novel, where Louis uses his foot instead. At one point he even asks Sam to cut the webbing between his toes so he can use the valves more easily -- the narrative stresses that this is painless, though it does make his swimming stroke a bit weaker).
* FunnyAnimalAnatomy: The book doesn't exactly say how Louis, who has no lips, can play a trumpet (though it is at least mentioned that it takes him a while to figure out for himself).
* GeniusBruiser: Not only is Louis pretty smart for an animal, but according to the novel, a trumpeter swan can swat you with the force of a baseball bat. Louis doesn't hesitate to use his strength to defend Serena.
* GettingCrapPastTheRadar: In the film, Louis holds a bottle and thinks "This pound water is kind of fizzy."
* {{Gonk}}: The Big City Agent.
* GreenAesop: E.B. White sneaks a few in there.
* GrudgingThankYou: Averted. Applegate is more than happy to be saved by a "stupid dirty bird". He still doesn't care for birds, though.
* HaveAGayOldTime: Allow yourself a free snicker when Serena hears Louis's trumpet and thinks "What a gay bird!"
** A somewhat more innocent example happens in-universe. Louis's father has to explain to him that he meant "mute" when he said "dumb," reassuring Louis that he doesn't regard his son as stupid.
* LargeHam: Louis's father.
* LostInTranslation: Louis initially tries to communicate with Serena with his chalk and slate. Unfortunately, Serena can't read.
* MeaningfulName: Louis plays a trumpet, like a certain other [[Music/LouisArmstrong jazz musician]]. This is lampshaded in the book, when a boy says he'll name him Louis after said musician, only for the swan to write on his chalkboard "That actually is my name."
** MusicalThemeNaming / NamedAfterSomebodyFamous: His sisters in the film, Ella and Billie, also share names with musicians: Msuic/EllaFitzgerald and Music/BillieHoliday, respectively.
* TheNapoleon: Boyd and the agent.
* OddFriendship
* PoliticallyIncorrectVillain: Boyd's character plays up the AllOfTheOtherReindeer aspect from the novel, [[ConflictBall as to be expected]].
* PollyWantsAMicrophone: Louis with his chalkboard.
* RaceLift: In the book, Sam Beaver is implied to be Native American. In the film, he's a generic white kid.
* TheRival: Boyd in the film.
* SatelliteLoveInterest: We never learn anything about Serena other than that she wasn't interested in returning Louis's feelings for her until she saw how well he could play the trumpet.
* SesquipedalianLoquaciousness: Occasionally Sam or another human character will stop and explain what a certain word means.
* ShoutOut: In the film, there are twin blonde pens who fawn over Boyd much like [[Disney/BeautyAndTheBeast the Bimbettes fawn over Gaston]].
* SingleWomanSeeksGoodMan: In the film, Serena prefers NiceGuy Louis over {{jerkass}} Boyd.
* SpiritualSuccessor: The book could be considered one to ''Literature/CharlottesWeb'' (though [[LighterAndSofter without]] the earlier book's [[DeathByNewberyMedal heavier themes]]), while the film could be considered one to ''WesternAnimation/HappyFeet''.
* StealthPun: Louis's species is a [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trumpeter_Swan Trumpeter Swan]], but due to his condition you could also say he's a [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mute_Swan "Mute" Swan]].
* SummerCampy: Camp Kookooskoos.
* SwanBoats: Louis at one point gets a job on the real life Swan Boats in Boston.
* TalkingAnimal: Subverted with Louis, who can't talk, but can read and write. Played straight with all the other animals (at least when humans aren't around).