Sunday, January 22, 2006

Lowji Discovers America

Fleming, Candace. 2005. LOWJI DISCOVERS AMERICA. New York: Atheneum. ISBN 0689862997 [Suggested Grade Levels 3-6]

For nine-year-old Lowji Sanjana, the only silver lining in his family’s move to America is the possibility of getting a pet. He soon discovers that going from a high-rise apartment in India to a three-story apartment house in Hamlet, Illinois has the same restrictions. “And oh, how different things are here in America. Different clothes! Different foods! Different faces! One thing however, has stayed the same. NO PETS are allowed in my new apartment either. Already I have learned an American expression for how I feel about this: Bummer!” Lowji’s silver lining comes when he convinces the crabby landlady that she needs animals like they have in India; a “bilaadi” to catch the mice, a “kutto” to bark and scare away burglars, and a “bakrun” to eat the grass when the lawnmower is on the fritz.

Sprinkled with words and phrases in Gujarati, Lowji’s narrative offers readers the insight that life in India is not so different from American life. Ma and Bape (mom and dad) still say “najare padvum” (we will see) when asked about getting a pet and moving in the summer and trying to make friends is especially hard. Fleming writes in a voice that every nine-year-old will recognize, where friends mean everything, parents’ jokes are roll-your-eyes not funny, and having a pet is a top priority. Lowji’s humorous style will assure readers that although adjustments are inevitable; moving to another country is just the beginning of a new adventure.

Ask readers if they have moved to America from another country. In what ways are their cultures different from American culture? Ask readers to relate a story about being in a different culture, country, or environment, and ways they felt comfortable and uncomfortable.

Other books about cultural adjustment:
Bruchac, Joseph. EAGLE SONG. ISBN 0803719191
Sheth, Kashmira. BLUE JASMINE. ISBN 0786818557

By Tammy Korns

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