Summary:  In the beginning of Chapter 6, the Cob and the Swan announce to the cygnets that they will be moving to Red Rocks Lake in Montana. After they arrive, Louis decides that he wants to learn to communicate with his family, so he finds Sam. Sam takes him to school, where Louis learns to read and write in the 1st grade class. After he completes year-and-a-half of school, Louis decides to go back home. Sam gives him a chalkboard and a piece of chalk that hangs around his neck as a parting gift. Once home, Louis meets a beautiful young swan named Serena. Louis quickly falls in love with her, but she’s not interested in him because he can’t make a noise. The Cob decides that he wants the best for his son, so he flies into the window of a music store and steals a trumpet. Louis is excited about the trumpet, but has trouble learning how to play it. Then, Serena moves away from the lake. Louis decides he needs someone to teach him how to play the trumpet, so he flies to see Sam. Sam tells him he needs to get a job to pay for the trumpet, so he teaches him a few more notes and offers to take him to Camp Kookooskoos to become the Camp Bugler. With the money he earns, he can pay back the trumpet and hopefully find someone to teach him how to play.

 Discussion Questions for Chapters 6 – 10

  • In Chapter 6, Louis’ parents tell the cygnets that they are moving from Ontario to Montana. Louis’ siblings begin asking lots of questions, but Louis can’t ask HIS questions because he can’t talk. How would you feel if your parents told you something life-changing, like you are moving, and you couldn’t ask any questions? Do you think Louis felt the same way?
  • When Sam saw the birds flying away, he wondered what it would be like to fly at night. What do you think it would be like? Would you prefer to fly in the night or the day?
  • Louis couldn’t talk, so how do you think Sam figured out that Louis wanted to learn to read and write?
    • Possible Answers:  You can point out that Louis was jumping up and down and shaking his head when Sam was asking him questions. He WAS using some non-verbal clues.
  • How would you react if a swan joined your class?
  • Louis left his family and lived with Sam for 18 months before returning to the lake. Do you think he should have told his family before he left? How would your parents react if you left for 18 months without telling them?
  • If Louis wanted to communicate with his family, what mistake did he make when he asked Sam to learn to read and write?
    • Possible Answers: None of the other swans knew how to read, so his chalkboard was useless. They couldn’t read his messages to them. He didn’t think his plan through before leaving.
  • What was the benefit of having the chalkboard even though the swans couldn’t read it?
    • Possible Answers: Even though the swans couldn’t read it, people could. Louis could now talk to people, which is something other swans couldn’t do.
  • The “grain man” Louis encountered at the lake was the first human Louis “talked” to in the real world. When the conversation was over, though, he decided not to tell anybody about the talking swan. Why didn’t he want to tell anybody?
    • Possible Answers: He was afraid that people would think he was crazy for saying that a swan could read and write.
  • How would you feel if a friend told you they met a swan that wrote messages to them on a chalkboard? Would you believe your friend?
  • When they first met, what did Serena think of Louis?
    • Possible Answers: She ignored him at first. When she did notice him, she liked how he looked with the slate around his neck. However, she didn’t know how to read, and she wanted a mate that could talk, so she decided she wasn’t interested in him.
  • Why did the Cob rob the music store? Would you have done the same if you were in his shoes?
    • Possible Answers: He robbed the music store & stole the trumpet so Louis would have a way to “talk” to Serena, whom he loved. He wanted to give his child the best chance in succeeding in life as possible.
  • Do you think the Cob was right to steal the trumpet? Do you think you would feel the same way if he was a human instead of a swan?
  • Once Louis gets the trumpet, he has trouble playing it. Then, Serena and her family leave the lake. Why do you think he keeps on practicing even though Serena had gone away?
    • Possible Answers: He might have thought she would return. He probably wanted to communicate with his family in addition to Serena.
  • At the end of Chapter 10, Sam gets Louis a job as a bugler at Camp Kookooskoos. Do you think a swan could have gotten a job in real life? Why or why not?

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