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The Indian in the Cupboard

The Indian in the Cupboard

4.5 163
by Lynne Reid Banks

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Full of magic and appealing characters, this classic novel takes readers on a remarkable adventure.

It's Omri's birthday, but all he gets from his best friend, Patrick, is a little plastic Indian brave. Trying to hide his disappointment, Omri puts the Indian in a metal cupboard and locks the door with a mysterious skeleton key that once belonged to


Full of magic and appealing characters, this classic novel takes readers on a remarkable adventure.

It's Omri's birthday, but all he gets from his best friend, Patrick, is a little plastic Indian brave. Trying to hide his disappointment, Omri puts the Indian in a metal cupboard and locks the door with a mysterious skeleton key that once belonged to his great-grandmother. Little does Omri know that by turning the key, he will transform his ordinary plastic Indian into a real live man from an altogether different time and place! Omri and the tiny warrior called Little Bear could hardly be more different, yet soon the two forge a very special friendship. Will Omri be able to keep Little Bear without anyone finding out and taking his precious Indian from him?

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Skyhigh fantasy that will enthrall readers."—Publishers Weekly

"Best novel of the year (1981)."—The New York Times.

Rebecca Caudill Young Reader's Book Award, California Young Reader Medal, Pacific Northwest Young Readers Choice Award, A Virginia Young Readers Award.

Children's Literature - Annie Laura Smith
Two birthday presents—a plastic miniature American Indian, who is known as Little Bear, and a mysterious old cupboard—forever changes the lives of nine-year-old Omri and his best friend Patrick who live in England. The Indian and other plastic figures magically come to life in the cupboard. The plastic toys, an old cupboard, and a mysterious key that belonged to Omri's great grandmother take him and Patrick into a world of fantasy and magic. The spirit of a historical Iroquois brave who lived 200 years ago emerges in the plastic toy, and a cowboy from the old west also comes to life. The story shows not only the value of friendship but that playing with peoples' lives can have consequences. The book received the following awards: California Young Reader Medal, A New York Times Best Book for Children, and An Association of Children's Librarians Distinguished Books. Sequels to the title include (2) The Return of the Indian, (3) The Secret of the Indian, and (4) The Mystery of the Cupboard. The books are developmental in nature and should be reader in order of their publication. A "Contents" page explains the progression of the stories. The narratives are supplemented by illustrations. A "Glossary" defines the British terms. Reviewer: Annie Laura Smith
New York Times Book Review
The best novel of the year.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Deserves a place of honor beside Mary Norton's The Borrowers and E.B. White's Stuart Little. Lynne Reid Banks possesses that rare ability to blend the drama and humor of everyday life with utterly believable fantasy.
Lloyd Alexander
Lynne Reid Banks touches a nerve in young people-adults,too-and touches it with wit, excitement, and poignancy.
Children's Literature
Indian in the Cupboard is a big story about some little visitors. The hero, Omri's world is shaken when his plastic Indian turns into a real Indian, just 3 inches tall. This beautiful, creative adventure follows Omri through the trials that come from keeping company with one so small. Omri and the Indian, named Little Bear, are soon joined by a tiny cowboy. Omri's best friend, Patrick, completes the cast of this inventive and funny tale for the whole family. Part of the charm comes as these boys learn the lessons of caring for others. They must carefully ponder the ways they treat each other as friends and the responsibilities of caring for strangers. Indian in the Cupboard is followed by four more "Indian" books. These are perfect for read aloud to younger children and a suspenseful treat for ages 8-12. 2003 (orig. 1980), Harper Trophy,
— Elizabeth Colbroth
Children's Literature - Gisela Jernigan
This audio version of the popular fantasy novel consists of three cassettes, with a playing time of four hours and twenty-two minutes. The technical and performance quality is very good, and although the author/reader reads quickly, and with a British accent, it is clear and easy to understand. The fact that the package shows a scene from the movie might be confusing, since this production is true to the book, while the movie differed somewhat. Although this first novel in the growing series is popular, well-written and exciting, some Native Americans and other advocates for good, authentic multicultural literature are critical of how "the Indian" character is portrayed and feel that the author, (probably unintentionally), reinforced negative images and stereotypes.

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Indian in the Cupboard Series
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt


Birthday Presents    

It was not that Omri didn't appreciate Patrick's birthday present to him. Far from it. He was really very grateful—sort of. It was, without a doubt, very kind of Patrick to give Omri anything at all, let alone a secondhand plastic Indian that he himself had finished with.  

The trouble was, though, that Omri was getting a little fed up with small plastic figures, of which he had loads. Biscuit tinsful, probably three or four if they were all put away at the same time, which they never were because most of the time they were scattered about in the bathroom, the loft, the kitchen, the breakfast room, not to mention Omri's bedroom and the garden. The compost heap was full of soldiers which, over several autumns, had been raked up with the leaves by Omri's mother, who was rather careless about such things.  

Omri and Patrick had spent many hours together playing with their joint collections of plastic toys. But now they'd had about enough of them, at least for the moment, and that was why, when Patrick brought his present to school on Omri's birthday, Omri was disappointed. He tried not to show it, but he was.  

"Do you really like him?" asked Patrick as Omri stood silently with the Indian in his hand.  

"Yes, he's fantastic," said Omri in only a slightly flattish voice. "I haven't got an Indian."  

"I know."  

"I haven't got any cowboys either."  

"Nor have I. That's why I couldn't play anything with him."  

Omri opened his mouth to say, "I won't be able to either," but, thinking that might hurt Patrick's feelings, he said nothing, put the Indian in his pocket, and forgot about it.  

After school there was a family tea, and all the excitement of his presents from his parents and his two older brothers. He got his dearest wish—a skateboard complete with kickboard and kryptonic wheels from his mum and dad, and from his eldest brother, Adiel, a helmet. Gillon, his other brother, hadn't bought him anything because he had no money (his pocket money had been stopped some time ago in connection with a very unfortunate accident involving their father's bicycle). So when Gillon's turn came to give Omri a present, Omri was very surprised when a large parcel was put before him, untidily wrapped in brown paper and string.  

"What is it?"  

"Have a look. I found it in the alley."  

The alley was a narrow passage that ran along the bottom of the garden where the dustbins stood. The three boys used to play there sometimes, and occasionally found treasures that other—perhaps richer—neighbors had thrown away. So Omri was quite excitedas he tore off the paper.  

Inside was a small white metal cupboard with a mirror in the door, the kind you see over the basin in old-fashioned bathrooms.  

You might suppose Omri would get another disappointment about this because the cupboard was fairly plain and, except for a shelf, completely empty, but oddly enough he was very pleased with it. He loved cupboards of any sort because of the fun of keeping things in them. He was not a very tidy boy in general, but he did like arranging things in cupboards and drawers and then opening them later and finding them just as he'd left them.  

"I do wish it locked," he said.  

"You might say thank you before you start complaining," said Gillon.  

"It's got a keyhole," said their mother. "And I've got a whole boxful of keys. Why don't you try all the smaller ones and see if any of them fit?"  

Most of the keys were much too big, but there were half a dozen that were about the right size. All but one of these were very ordinary. The unordinary one was the most interesting key in the whole collection, small with a complicated lock part and a fancytop. A narrow strip of red satin ribbon was looped through one of its curly openings. Omri saved that key to the last.  

None of the others fitted, and at last he picked up the curly-topped key and carefully put it in the keyhole on the cupboard door, just below the knob. He did hope very much that it would turn, and regretted wasting his birthday-cake-cutting wish on something so silly (or rather, unlikely) as that he might pass his spelling test next day, which it would take real magic to bring about as he hadn't even looked at the words since they'd been given out four days ago. Now he closed his eyes and unwished the test pass and wished instead that this little twisty key would turn Gillon's present into a secret cupboard.  

The key turned smoothly in the lock. The door wouldn't open.  

"Hey! Mum! I've found one!"  

"Have you, darling? Which one?" His mother came to look. "Oh that one! How very odd. That was the key to my grandmother's jewel box, that she got from Florence. It was made of red leather and it fell to bits at last, but she kept the key and gave it tome. She was most terribly poor when she died, poor old sweetie, and kept crying because she had nothing to leave me, so in the end I said I'd rather have this little key than all the jewels in the world. I threaded it on that bit of ribbon—it was much longer then—and hung it around my neck and told her I'd always wear it and remember her. And I did for a long time. But then the ribbon broke and I nearly lost it."  

"You could have got a chain for it," said Omri.  

She looked at him. "You're right," she said. "I should have done just that. But I didn't. And now it's your cupboard key. Please don't lose it, Omri, will you?"  

Omri put the cupboard on his bedside table, and opening it, looked inside thoughtfully. What would he put in it?   "It's supposed to be for medicines," said Gillon. "You could keep your nose drops in it."  

"No! That's just wasting it. Besides, I haven't any other medicines."  

"Why don't you pop this in?" his mother suggested, and opened her hand. In it was Patrick's Indian. "I found it when I was putting your trousers in the washing machine."  

Omri carefully stood the Indian on the shelf.  

"Are you going to shut the door?" asked his mother.  

"Yes. And lock it."   He did this and then kissed his mother and she turned the light out and he lay down on his side looking at the cupboard. He felt very content. Just as he was dropping off to sleep his eyes snapped open. He had thought he heard a little noise . . . but no. All was quiet. His eyes closed again.    

In the morning there was no doubt about it. The noise actually woke him.  

He lay perfectly still in the dawn light staring at the cupboard, from which was now coming a most extraordinary series of sounds. A pattering; a tapping; a scrabbling; and—surely?—a high-pitched noise like—well, almost like a tiny voice.   To be truthful, Omri was petrified. Who wouldn't be? Undoubtedly there was something alive in that cupboard. At last, he put out his hand and touched it. He pulled very carefully. The door was shut tight. But as he pulled, the cupboard moved, just slightly.The noise from inside instantly stopped.   He lay still for a long time, wondering. Had he imagined it? The noise did not start again. At last he cautiously turned the key and opened the cupboard door.  

The Indian was gone.

Meet the Author

Lynne Reid Banks is the bestselling author of many popular books for children and adults. She lives in England.

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Indian in the Cupboard 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 163 reviews.
caleb_h_WV More than 1 year ago
This book is about a boy named Omri and he an Indian and a cupboard for his birthday. Some of the characters in the story are Omri, Patrick, and Omri's two brothers. Omri puts the Indian in the cupboard overnight and then in the morning he heard something in the cupboard and he opened it and he saw the Indian alive. Omri keeps it to himself that his Indian came alive overnight in the cupboard. He builds Little Bear a longhouse to live in. He takes little bear and his horse outside for a ride. Little bear gets hurt outside and then Omri goes inside and he brings the chief alive so he can help Little Bear. Then the chief dies and then little bear takes charge of being chief. Omri didn't want to tell anyone about his cupboard turning plastic toys into real toys. His friend Patrick who gave him the toy and one day he slipped out that he was real. Patrick didn't believe him that he was real and then Patrick wanted to go to Omri's house and see himself. Omri took him to his house to see. When Patrick saw it he wanted one then. Omri didn't want him to have one because he was afraid that Patrick would tell everyone. Omri had to go downstairs for his mom. When he came back up Patrick had made a cowboy real. There is a good ending to the book but ill let you read the book so you can see what the ending is. Now you know some things about the book The Indian in the Cupboard. If you chose this book I hope my review as been helpful to you.
emma-bear_ More than 1 year ago
The Indian In The Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks, was a good book. Yes, it was small for a book for a teenager like myelf to read, but it was still very good. It had a lot of emotion and tension, and proof that everyone is important and special in their own way. I want to find the publishers or Lynne Reid Banks, or whoever decided to have the British to American words dictionary. I hate it when you read a book with British people, and you can't understand any of it. This is a good book to read if you need to do a report for school. Overall, I think anybody between the ages of nine and fourteen would like this.
will18 More than 1 year ago
The book The Indian in the Cupboard by Brock Cole is a great book that takes place in the 1930s. Here are some events from the story. For Omri's birthday he got a cupboard with a key that can bring plastic to life. Omri brought a plastic Indian to life named Little Bear. Little Bear wanted to make a longhouse so Omri got him some supplies to make it. Once he makes it Omri's best friend Patrick finds out about Little Bear and gets really jealous so he found a plastic cowboy and brought it to life and his name was Boone. One day Omri decided to bring Little Bear and Boone to school, he gave them both to Patrick and he put them in his pocket but he tripped and thought he had killed Little Bear and Boone. Omri took them after that and went to art class and Boone drew a picture so small that the art teacher was amazed and she thought Omri had drawn it. Late at night Omri and Patrick decided to watch a movie about cowboys and Indians, the cowboys were winning a fight so Little Bear got so mad and shot Boone with an arrow. In the morning Little Bear was complaining because he really wanted a wife, so they went to the shop and bought a plastic Indian to bring to life, but when Omri got home he could not find the magic key and he found out it was under the floor boards because his dad had changed the floor boards. Omri sends down Little Bear to get the key but there is a rat! Down there! The Indian in the Cupboard has some positives and some negatives. One positive is that Omri brings a plastic Indian to life, that is positive because that makes the book very exciting. Another positive is that Omri's friend Patrick really wants to bring a toy to life so he puts a cowboy in the cupboard, I liked that because Little Bear would now have a friend his size. One last positive is that they could not ell anybody about Little Bear or Boone. One negative thing in the book is that the brought a toy doctor to life to help Little Bear get healed, but they did not show the doctor that many times. I also didn't like that Patrick told the principal about the toys because it ruined their secret. Lastly I think they should have made Little Bears wife speak more because she only spoke once or twice. The writing style of the author is very interesting. This book is very easy to read. The author (Brock Cole) uses 1st person. 1st person makes the book better because if the author told the story then you might not understand Omri's feelings that well. Most of the words in this book are very easy to read. All of the topics that Brock Cole writes are very clear. This book has some recommendations and some not recommendations. I would recommend this book because it is very interesting how Omri brings a plastic Indian to life. I also like how Patrick brings a cowboy to life and it becomes friends with Little Bear. I would also not recommend this book because the whole book is pretty much in Omri's house. Here are some similar novels to this book. They are actually all in the same series, the 2nd book in the series is called The Return of the Indian, the 3rd book in the series is called The Secret of the Indian, the 4th book in the series is called The Mystery of the Cupboard, and lastly the 5th book The Key to the Indian. The Indian in the Cupboard was a great book.
Jordan_C_WV More than 1 year ago
Indian in the Cupboard Book Review The main idea of this book is that a boy (Omri) gets a plastic Indian from his friend (Patrick) and a cupboard from his older brother (Gillon), for his birthday. Omri puts the Indian in the cupboard and he comes to life. Omri ends up taking care of the Indian and it becomes a great adventure for him. Lynn Reid Banks possesses the rare ability to blend the drama of everyday life with an utterly believable fantasy in this book. It's amazing how the indian comes to life from being locked in a cupboard. The cupboard is of everyday life and the living minature indian is apart of the utterly believable fantasy. This book is a really good book. I highly recommend this book for anyone who likes adventure books or to anyone who likes to read in general. I rate this book a four star book. =)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The is a great book. I read it as a kid and now I get to read to my children and they love it to.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Truly a clasdic shoyld be remebered by all
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is an out standing book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I like the book and the movie of the indian in the cuboard
Guest More than 1 year ago
In this story Omri gets a cupboard from his brother who didn't have enough money to buy him a gift. He picked it up in the alley next to their house,Omri was very interested in it.He also got a wooden indian figure from his best friend Patrick who painted it himself.The last gift is a key that was his great grand mother's key to her jewelry box.That night he set the cupboard on his dresser and he put the indian in the cupboard and he locked it with the key.A couple of hours later Omri woke up to a loud noise in the cupboard, the magic was just beginning.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I liked the story because of the expressions they used and of the bravery Little Bear showed. Also Little Bear was a very smart Indian. Omri was a boy that wasn't very happy when he saw the gift Patrick brought him. I liked the story a lot. I thank the auther for writing this story for kids to read.
Anonymous 8 months ago
Good book n movie
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just just amazing. My dad and I read this together every night before going to sleep and we did not want to stop. We did not want the book to end and were sad when it finally did. So happy there are two more books in the series!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A lot of reviews hav said that this book stins, and I respect that. But in my opinion, the author has created an endless story that the future generatiin can love and respect. This book was first recommended to me by my 6th grade teacher, an ever since then, wheneve I come across a book in this series, I have to borrow it. I have read all of the books to my sister, and she absolutely LOVES them. My teacher gave me the entire series to keep, and I'll find my sister with one of the books in her hands. This first book is about Omni and a cupboard that he gets for his birthday, from his best friend, Patrick. They live in England. Omni recieves a plastic Native American from his family, and locks it in the cupboard, using a key that used to belong to his great-grandmother. When he awakes, he hears a noise coming from the cupboard. He opens the cupboard, and is surprised to see the toy koving around. Is this Omni's imagination? Or is the toy really alive? If the toy is alive, how? Omni can't let the secret out, or he'll never find out. Do you think you've got the heart to find out? If so, try this book! It really is a great book... if you can survive the suspense, and the drama. And the secrets... 'Cause this is the biggest secret you must keep. Otherwise, the indian in the cupboard will haunt your dreams, and maybe he'll b staring at you when you wake up. Maybe, your life will never be the same, ever again...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is awesome
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just CUTE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this i listened to it with my family super imaginitive and childlike
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of my favs
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I a reading this right now and it is so good. It is so intense. I would love to have a cupboard like that.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Had to read 4 school. Good