The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks

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I read this book as part of the Read Harder Challenge 2016 for the category “read a book originally published in the decade you were born”. To save you keeners looking it up, that was the 80’s.

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I wasn’t sure of this category. I’m not normally drawn to older books, I prefer to read contemporary novels. But when I brought out trusty old google to search for books published in the 80’s this came up. I also chose this one because I vaguely remember watching the movie with my parents as a child and wanted to check out the story again.

Remember this?

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So The Indian in the Cupboard is based on the idea that a young boy named Omri receives a very old (and unbeknownst to him, magical) cupboard for his birthday. It has a lock and a key which his Mother gives to him and explains is very precious (sentimentally). At first Omri is disappointed with his gifts … until he discovers that any plastic toy locked in the cupboard would come to life!

Enter the Indian. And a horse and cowboy, and Indian Princess and WWI army doctor…

Clearly this story was not written with political correctness in mind!

It takes a while for Omri and the Indian (Little Horse) to understand each other, and for Omri to realize that his toy is no longer just a toy, but a living and breathing being with feelings, needs and fears. He quickly learns to respect Little Bear as another human rather than treat him like his possession or pet. Eventually, Omri seeps to adopt the understanding that Little Bear has travelled from his own place in history because he comes with back-story and the relationships any adult would have (parental, marital, friendships).

I was under the impression that the story took place long ago, in the early 1900’s of England but either the movie was different or my memory faulty, because the plot is set in the second half of twentieth century America.

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I also never realized that this was the first book in a series of five children’s novels. I have a passing desire to read the following novels, mostly because I hate leaving something half finished which it feels like I have, but I doubt I will unless I read them with my own kids one day. Although I enjoyed the story of the Indian in the Cupboard, I had a hard time getting through a very short children’s novels. My best guess is that it is because the writing is too young for me to really become engrossed, even though the events were interesting.

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xx

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