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By J. Stephen Bolhafner
Published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Sunday, February 27, 1994 Page 5C

Foreign Exchange
By George Dardess
142 pages, Austen, $12.95 paper

ALVIN SPRATT has a problem. There's a student from Germany living in his home. At least, that's what his parents say. And Mr. Daniels, the adviser to the foreign-exchange program. And the principal, and all the teachers. All of them insist that Rudi is a normal boy, if a little shy and not very good at English.

To the kids, it seems obvious that he's a dog. A funny looking dog, at that. Why are the adults behaving so strangely? Alvin and his friends decide to play along, and pretend that Rudi is a person. Before long, they've forgotten he's a dog.

That's the set-up for "Foreign Exchange," an amusing little fantasy in pictures and words that takes a thoughtful look at some important themes - like how others' perceptions of us can transform us. Dardess has an interesting story to tell, and a deceptively simple cartoon style that doesn't get in the way of the story by dazzling the eye. It's only after a couple of readings, examining panels closely, that you begin to realize just how good an artist he really is.

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