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Swan in Love Hardcover – April 1, 2000

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 7 years
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Atheneum; 1st edition (April 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0689820801
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689820809
  • Product Dimensions: 11.2 x 9.3 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,581,013 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Bunting (Smoky Night) seems to look toward Hans Christian Andersen with this obliqueAif not to say weirdAallegory about a swan enamored of a swan-shaped boat. Ridiculed by the other swans and the fish ("Doesn't he know she's different?"), Swan remains steadfast in his affection, knowing that "difference makes no difference to love." Remarks from other creatures bring on more platitudes from the lovestruck swan: love is never wrong, love isn't always wise. Then a mysterious voice "from the sky, or the lake, or the air itself" advises, "Don't ever stop loving." Though the other swans depart, Swan spends long, cold winters by the boat's side. When the voice speaks to him, announcing, "You have found the answer," Swan does not understand. Readers, too, will be puzzled. The winter leaves the vessel so damaged that the owner plans to junk it, and Swan, too, has aged badly. After Swan hears "the voice" announce, "Love makes magic," he and the boat are cryptically transported "somewhere," presumably to an afterlife. Stammen's (If You Were Born a Kitten) pastels are graceful and even stately, yet there's not much she can do to break the lugubrious, unchildlike mood of the text. Ages 4-7. (Apr.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 2-4-A special tale of love's transcendence for an adult and child to share. Swan falls in love with a lovely swan-shaped boat named Dora and, despite the admonitions of the other swans and fish that she is "different," his love never wavers. Nor does he heed the advice of the frogs, the opossum, or a flock of Canada geese that suggest that he turn his attentions elsewhere. He stays with Dora year after year until her owner pulls her-cracked and "finished"-from the water. "There was a flowing then, a streaming against Swan's folded wings, and he was somewhere, Dora beside him. But she wasn't Dora though he knew she was. And he wasn't Swan though he knew he was. Love makes magic, he thought-." Bunting again presents a sensitive topic from an unconventional point of view. She leaves readers with a simple, wholly acceptable examination of loving and loss. Without challenging religious beliefs, the author opens the way for a discussion of death and dying. Many of Stammen's striking pastel illustrations exhibit detailed realism with an almost three-dimensional quality; others have a surreal appearance-a spiritual feeling. Changes in perspective add variety as well and the artwork pairs beautifully, page by page, with Bunting's succinct narration. The book's esoteric message, however, may preclude its wide-range use.
Susan Scheps, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Kristi McKay on March 28, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is a simple, yet beautiful way for children to learn that it's ok to love anything they feel love for, despite any differences. The illustrations are magical and the words transcend the idea of love softly into any readers heart.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 25, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Absolutely beautiful illustrations! The story is wonderful too. Swan is encouraged by a greater power to love, even when others scorn him. Although the ending is a bit ethereal, truly a wonderful book.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Misha on January 20, 2001
Format: Hardcover
If you have children of any age, chances are you're already aware that Eve Bunting is an author of high quality, regardless of the age for which she is writing. Marry that particular caveat with the fact that this book is also illustrated magnificently by the no-less-superb Jo Allen McAllister Stammen, and you're in the ballpark for a winner.
"Swan in Love," however, tends to be a bit heavy handed for my tastes. The swan in the title, Swan, is in love with a swan-shaped boat with the name "Dora" painted on her. Swan has to endure the ridicule from the other swans, frogs, and fish in and on the lake. Rather than flying south for the winter, Swan watches as Dora is pulled from the lake, and sits by, taking up guard.
Inevitably, and predictably, Dora starts to become a little run down. In fact, it looks as though Dora's days as a boat are finished; her return to the lake one spring reveals too many leaks to allow her to stay in the water. She is pulled out, much to the distress of Swan.
The ending of the book is confusing to some children; after a small amount of explaining, they tend to "get it," but still are a bit disturbed by the fact that the love expressed throughout the book is all in Swan's head. The lesson being taught is that love, even unrequited love, is fine; it will be returned, even if only in your imagination.
I know, the actual lesson of the book is far less shallow than that, but I can only echo the sentiments of my own kids. Questions such as "How come it didn't show the other swans that might have loved Swan as much as he loved Dora?"
Swan isn't unloveable, and neither is the book. Pick it up and read it to your kids; it should engage them in some insightful conversation, if nothing else.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Donald Wayne Demko on February 28, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is the way a children's book should be. The artwork is lush, the story heart breaking, and the concept and central theme is enough to touch an adult perspective as stronly as a child's view. The tale is simple: A swan falls in love with a touring boat carved in the shape of a swan, and refuses to give up on his unrequited love no matter what the consequences. The ending will leave even adults with a sense of the wonder and the sense of loss that true emotions reveal. This story revolves around what love really is, and how much we would be willing to give up for it.
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More About the Author

Eve Bunting has written more than 200 books for children, many of which can be found in libraries around the world. Her other Clarion titles for very young readers include My Big Boy Bed, which was also illustrated by Maggie Smith, and Little Bear's Little Boat, illustrated by Nancy Carpenter. She lives in Pasadena, California.

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