When Omri turns nine he is disappointed to find that all his best friend Patrick got him was a small plastic native American brave. He also gets a metal cupboard from his older brother, a cupboard which can be locked by a mysterious skeleton key that had once belonged to his great-grandmother.
Omri places the little figure in the cupboard over night and turns the key, little does he know that with this simple gesture he had just changed his life for ever. For when that cupboard is locked the ordinary plastic figure is turned into a real live man who has his own life in a very different time and place.
While Omri and the tiny warrior, Little Bear, are very different people from wildly different lives they quickly form a strong friendship, but there are more than a few storms on their adventure together.
Indian in the Cupboard is great book for children to read, and even to this day I’ll occasionally read it just for the nostalgia trip alone, every child at one point or another wishes their toys could come alive.
It’s not just a fun loving adventure story though, there are deep lessons children should learn here. Omri lets go of his own desires and becomes a more caring character as the book progresses. He puts his own wants to one side to care for his new friend, to help him feel at home, even going so far to find him the perfect plastic horse and wife figure so that Little Bear wouldn’t feel so sad. It is almost like Omri is the parent for this tiny but fierce warrior.
There are some things to note however if you wish to have your children read this book, or if you’re planning to read it to them. This book is full of stereotypes of Native Americans and Little Bear is nothing but an amalgamation of the most common misconceptions about Native Americans, particularly the barbaric nature of their culture. For instance when a cowboy is introduced the first thing Little Bear says is that he wants to scalp him, this is obviously problematic for today’s audience and has rightly raised controversies over the book. Words like “Injun” and “red man” are also commonly found throughout.
But that is a conversation for a longer essay in the future.
At its core though this is a fun adventure book about two very different souls who are thrown together by mistake and who grow into better versions of themselves because of it.
If you’d like to enjoy this book for yourself you can find it on Amazon.
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