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Lowji Discovers America

About The Book

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,


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

"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

Reading Group Guide

By Candace Fleming
For nearly nine-year-old Lowji, the move from big, busy Bombay, India, to Hamlet, Illinois, in America is beginning to seem like a bummer until he finds the "silver" (silver linings). What Lowji discovers first is that "No! No you can't have a pet," works no matter where he lives until he finds the "silver."
Awareness of surroundings and situations; Persistence in seeking information and answers; Culture of India; Learning to compromise
• In what ways did the glossary help you?
• Using clues from the story, describe Jamshed.
• What reasons can you give for the ways that the All Mart boys acted toward Lowji?
• Explain to adults like Lowji's parents why it was important for Lowji to respond as he did to Baseball Cap and the All Mart boys in the bowling alley.
• Predict and discuss what will happen during Lowji's first weeks at Hamlet Elementary School.
Lowji Discovers America tells of many adventures. Make a time line to show the problems or events that Lowji encounters and his solutions to them.
• Lowji is unsure about moving to America. His bape tells him to look for the silver linings. ° Explain what Bape means by silver linings. ° When you understand the meaning of silver linings, think of some examples from your own life where you tried to find the silver linings. ° Using a Venn diagram or other graphic organizer, compare Lowji's "silvers" with your own.
• The author has created a lively and interesting character in Lowji. Write down Lowji's special characteristics. For example, what characteristics does Lowji display in the chapter, "Ironman" when he saves the pig?
• Lowji folded paper and created a "wish" bird. His paper folding is known as origami. Look for books on origami in your school library or public library. From books on origami and web sites you can learn to make your own "wish" bird and other creatures. Copier paper cut into squares works well when learning origami.
Suggested web sites: and
• Lowji and his parents are newcomers to America. If they plan to stay here for the rest of their lives, they could also be called immigrants.
When we hear the word "immigrant" in the news, we may be reading someone's opinion about problems with the immigration of people into America. The treatment of people emigrating from India to America in the late nineteenth and the early twentieth centuries was similar to what immigrating Hispanics are experiencing in the early years of the twenty-first century. In 1890 a congressman wanted to stop admitting people from India into America because, "They wore turbans, ate rice, and were not Christians." At that time people from India were usually called "Hindus." That word refers to just one of the many religions of India.
What do you know about immigrants? To find out more, get information from InfoTrac and SIRS Discoverer databases. Another good source for learning more about immigration is Appreciating America's Heritage from the American Immigration Law Foundation ( From the same source you can find a document from 2002 called The Passage from India. Appreciating America's Heritage is a curriculum guide for K-12, with activities and resources.¬
This reading group guide is for classroom, library, and reading group use. It may be reproduced in its entirety or excerpted for these purposes.
Prepared by Mary Ann Sadler
© William Allen White Children's Book Award
Please visit for more information about the awards and to see curriculum guides for other master list titles.

About The Author

Photograph (c) Eric Rohmann

Candace Fleming is the acclaimed author of numerous books for children, including the Bulldozer books; Ben Franklin’s Almanac, an ALA Notable Book and an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, as well as Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!, and Sibert Medal honorees The Honeybee, and The Giant Squid. She lives in a suburb of Chicago.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (June 23, 2008)
  • Length: 160 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781439107843
  • Ages: 7 - 11

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Awards and Honors

  • Virginia Young Readers List
  • Bank Street Best Books of the Year
  • Maine Student Book Award Reading List
  • Sunshine State Young Readers' Award List (FL)

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