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Lowji Discovers America

Lowji Discovers America

5.0 2
by Candace Fleming

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Dear Jamshed,
America is not so different from what we thought. I told you I wouldn't see a single cowboy riding across the plain, and I haven't.
I have not even seen a plain.
Still, there are some silver linings. They are:
  1. Trapper and King, the cat and dog who live in the apartment building. They are cuddly and waggy. I am not allowed to


Dear Jamshed,
America is not so different from what we thought. I told you I wouldn't see a single cowboy riding across the plain, and I haven't.
I have not even seen a plain.
Still, there are some silver linings. They are:

  1. Trapper and King, the cat and dog who live in the apartment building. They are cuddly and waggy. I am not allowed to play with them, though, becayse they are supposed to catch mice and keep burglars away.
  2. Ironman. He owns a pig and talks to me a lot. But he is a grown-up.
  3. Kids. I can hear them playing outside. Too bad they do not want to play with me.

I wish you were here.
Do you wish I was in India?
Write back soon.
Your friend,

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Fleming's (Ben Franklin's Almanac) warm if somewhat slow-paced novel introduces an affable nine-year-old narrator who moves with his parents from Bombay to Hamlet, Ill. Lowji immediately notes the differences between his old and new life: "Hamlet, I see, is small and quiet. I am not used to small and quiet.... I am used to honking cars and rattling trains and double-decker buses that raise clouds of hot, dry dust." The boy sorely misses his best friend and longs for a pet, but the cranky owner of their apartment building does not allow them. Lowji cleverly finds a way around this rule: after convincing Landlady Crisp to get a cat to catch the building's mice, a dog to scare off burglars who are breaking into homes in town and goats to help trim the grass while her lawn mower is broken, he volunteers to pet-sit. Though the boy and his family primarily spoke English in Bombay, Lowji enjoys using the new American expressions he learns, and sprinkles the narrative with Indian words (collected in a concluding glossary). In a happy development that readers will see coming, Lowji makes a friend in the end and is thrilled when the coriander and curry seeds he brought from his homeland finally sprout, proving-with satisfying symbolism-that plants from India can indeed "grow and flourish" in American soil. Ages 7-11. (Mar.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Nine-year-old Lowji Sanjana faces a huge life change in this novel. He has always lived in Bombay, India, happily surrounded by loads of family and friends. Now he must move to America. His best friend Jamshed tries to help him find the silver lining. Maybe he can get the pet he has always wanted. But his new life in Hamlet, Illinois, does not bring him a pet or new friends. Everything seems strange and confusing. The small Bombay markets where you bargain are replaced by All-Mart where you find everything under one roof at fixed prices. And there are so many strange idioms. But Lowji is such a winning, cheery character that we know he will win friends soon and by book's end, he does. Throughout the book are details of Indian food, life, culture, religion, and language. These are used sparingly enough in a book filled with strange characters, interesting observations, and a young boy for whom we want happiness. 2005, Atheneum, Ages 8 to 10.
—Susie Wilde
School Library Journal
Gr 3-5-The versatile Fleming has written a refreshingly light novel about a boy from Bombay who moves to a small town in Illinois at the beginning of summer vacation, so he's faced with no friends and nothing to do. Before long, though, he persuades his grouchy landlady to adopt a succession of animals (first a cat, then a dog, and finally a goat), rescues a pet pig that belongs to a very sweet tough guy, and wistfully watches a mysterious girl on a blue bicycle pass by his apartment. Told in first person in Lowji's slightly formal yet engaging voice, the story has a simple charm that glides over some well-worn comic territory (how often has a goat munched on a ruffled shirt stolen from a clothes line?). Interspersed throughout are letters to the boy's best friend in India, which show his gradual transition into his new world. Similar in tone to a classic like Henry Huggins, this book is nevertheless firmly set in the 21st century and opens a window to what may be an unfamiliar culture to many readers. The episodic structure lends itself to classroom or family read-alouds.-Lauralyn Persson, Wilmette Public Library, IL Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Lowji has lived in Bombay with his Ma and Bape for his whole life. He loves his life in the big city in his modern high-rise apartment building, but he does not like one of the rules: NO PETS. When his mother gets a high-tech job in suburban Illinois, he moves away from his best friend, his school and his grandparents. Though he's disappointed to find that apartment rules are much the same anywhere, Lowji, always looking for the silver lining, comes up with a plan that leads to the addition of a working cat (for the mice) and dog (to discourage burglars) and even some goats (to mow the grass). There's nothing stereotypical about this family-the mother has the high-tech job and the father will find a job as a chef someday. Many interesting details of Indian food, clothes and culture are sprinkled comfortably through the story, including a discussion of the tenets of Zoroastrianism and Hinduism. This early-chapter book introduces a likable, lively boy, and readers will wonder how he fares in American schools. Let's hope for a sequel or two. (Glossary) (Fiction. 7-11)

Product Details

Atheneum Books for Young Readers
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File size:
240 KB
Age Range:
7 - 11 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1: Bye-Bye, Bombay

I am Lowji Sanjana. I am a kid. I used to live in the country of India, in the big city of Bombay, in an apartment building with my ma and my bape and NO PETS! That was the apartment building's rule: NO PETS!

But not long ago -- just weeks after my ninth birthday -- I learned we were moving...far away...across the ocean...to...

"America!" exclaimed Bape.

"America?" I gasped. I did not believe my ears!

How could I leave my grandmother and my grandfather? How could I leave my aunts and my uncles and my cousins? How could I leave my school and my best friend, Jamshed?

I started to cry.

Bape put his arms around me. "Look for the good in our move, Lowji," he said. "Find the silver lining."

I blew my nose. What silver lining? I could not find any silver lining.

It was my friend Jamshed who found some silver first.

"Lowji," he said. "In America you can finally have a dog! A dog who will sleep on your bed. A dog who will play ball with you."

"Yes," I said, slowly beginning to find some silver too. "And a cat! I can finally have a cat to cuddle with. A cat who will purr when I pet it."

"And," cried Jamshed, clapping his hands in excitement, "a horse!"

I raised my eyebrows. "A horse?"

"Of course," said Jamshed. "In America many people have horses for galloping across open plains and rounding up cows."

"How do you know this?" I asked.

"I saw it at the cinema," answered Jamshed.

"The cinema?" I thought about the American films I had seen lately. "I do not remember seeing any horses...or cattle...or plains."

"Well," admitted Jamshed, "it was an old movie. Really old. In black and white."

"Ah." I nodded. I had never thought of owning a horse before.

Later, when I asked Ma and Bape about having a dog and a cat and maybe even a horse in America, they said, "Najare padvum." That means "We will see" in Gujarati -- the language we sometimes spoke in Bombay when we were not using English. And so I came to America with high hopes of becoming a pet owner.

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!

Copyright © 2005 by Candace Fleming

Meet the Author

Candace Fleming is the acclaimed author of numerous books for children, including Ben Franklin’s Almanac, an ALA Notable Book and an ALA Best Book for Young Adults; as well as Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!; Gabriella’s Song; and When Agnes Caws; all ALA Notable Books. She lives in a suburb of Chicago.

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Lowji Discovers America 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anthony Schulz More than 1 year ago
I love Candace Fleming! Can't wait for more!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago