Like Eeka in Robinson's Eskimo Birthday, below, Japanese American Emi, just taming seven, starts out worrying that her birthday will be spoiled--in this case by a minister from Japan whose coming visit will keep her from having the usual party. To Emi's surprise (but not the reader's) Reverend Okura turns out to be young, a little rumpled, and not ""very dull or even very proper,"" and he immediately wins her by officiating at the funeral of a small neighbor's dead bird. Emi's family, with its roast beef dinner and ""Swanee River"" (!) singalong, is far more Americanized than Eeka's, but where the glimpse of Eeka's environment help compensate for the weak story Emi's warm family celebration is informed more fully with engaging specifics, such as Reverend Okura's wiggly sock feet under that table. Although this never proves to be a four-star occasion for readers, it does end up as a pleasant exchange.