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.
Lynne Reid Banks touches a nerve in young people-adults,too-and touches it with wit, excitement, and poignancy.
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,
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.
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 presentsa plastic miniature American Indian, who is known as Little Bear, and a mysterious old cupboardforever 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
Read an Excerpt
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 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.
From the Trade Paperback edition.