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The Indian in the Cupboard

Last updated Friday, June 24, 2011

Author: Lynne Reid Banks
Date of Publication: 1985
ISBN: 9780385170512
Grade Level: 4th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Jul. 2011

Synopsis: Amazon.com Review
What could be better than a magic cupboard that turns small toys into living creatures? Omri's big brother has no birthday present for him, so he gives Omri an old medicine cabinet he's found. Although their mother supplies a key, the cabinet still doesn't seem like much of a present. But when an exhausted Omri dumps a plastic toy Indian into the cabinet just before falling asleep, the magic begins. Turn the key once and the toy comes alive; turn it a second time and it's an action figure again.

The Indian in the Cupboard is one of those rare books that is equally appealing to children and adults. The story of Omri and the Indian, Little Bear, is replete with subtle reminders of the responsibilities that accompany friendship and love. For kids, it's a great yarn; for most parents, it's also a reminder that Omri's wrenching decision to send his toy back to its own world is not so different from the recognition of their children's emerging independence.

Note to readers:
•  The book is set in England, so here are a few words you may need to define:
•  p.1 biscuit tins – cracker or cookie boxes made of metal
•  p. 2 dustbins – trash cans
•  p. 12 row – a fight
•  p. 18 firewater – alcohol (not an English term, but a slang term used in old Western movies)

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Do you or did you play with any action figures or dolls? Did you ever imagine any of your toys coming to life?
•  Have any of you seen the movie version of this book?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  p. 2 Have you ever received a birthday gift you did not like? One that you could tell was used?
•  p. 9 Do you think the Indian is brave? If you were him, what you would you do or be thinking?
•  p. 15 What responsibilities does Omri have towards the Indian?
•  Who, if anyone, should Omri tell about the Indian? Who should he NOT tell?
•  (Depending upon how far you get in the book)
•  What else should Omri put in the cupboard? What should he NOT put in the cupboard? Why?

Craft ideas:
•  Draw a picture of one or more of your old toys brought to life in the cupboard
•  Create a list of rules for anyone who owns the cupboard, with drawings
•  This books was made into a movie –draw your own movie poster for this book

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!