Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Indian in the Cupboard, by Lynne Reid Banks

“The Indian in the Cupboard” was one of my favorite books when I was in school.  I think that it was on our fourth-grade reading list, and I remember that our teacher read it to us out loud, one chapter every day.  I was so impatient back then that I checked it out from the library and finished it myself at home, because I couldn’t wait to see how the story turned out!  Even reading it now, the book is just as good as I remember. 

This book is about Omri, who gets an empty cupboard for his birthday present.  Completely by accident, Omri places a plastic Indian inside the cupboard and locks it with a family heirloom key.  The Indian comes to life, and Omri quickly discovers that he can bring other plastic toys to life as well.  Working with his friend Patrick, Omri quickly turns his messy bedroom into the Wild West, complete with a cowboy and horses.

This sounds like an awesome way to play, but the situation quickly gets out of hand. Omri discovers that his toys are real people, with real problems.  The cowboy is an uncontrollable crybaby, and the Indian wants to build a home and take a wife.  Even worse, Omri and Patrick begin to fight over who owns which toys.  It’s a tense situation, and it’s especially difficult for them to keep this magic a secret between them.

I’d recommend this book to just about anyone, even if you don’t really like books about magic.  The magic in this story is just sort of there in the background, and the real plot is about what happens to the characters.  You can’t help being amazed as these tiny people learn to adapt to this huge new world around them, and how Omri learns to be responsible for the people he brought to life. 

After I read this book again, I spent some time looking at all of the bulldozers and excavators that my son keeps in his room.  If they somehow turned real, I bet that they’d turn our house into a construction site!  Do you have any favorite toys of your own?  Do you ever wonder what would happen if they somehow became real?

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