Book #10: The Indian in the Cupboard

Nostalgia dictates a lot of the books I choose to read aloud to my kids and this book is a prime example of it.  Oddly enough, my library didn’t have a copy of it.  Is it because of it’s outdated title?  Or no one reads it any more or remembers reading it?  No idea.  But the first book in Lynne Reid Banks’ books about Omri and his magic key are worth reading.

Originally published in 1980, it does use the term Indian to describe Little Bear, the Iriquois brave who is brought to life through Omri’s magic cupboard.  The broken English he speaks adds to the stereotype, but honestly, he’s such a wise, likable, and self-respecting character that I think despite the author’s views and choice of words, she shows how Omri comes to see both Little Bear and his cowboy friend as actual people, not toys or things.

In writing this post, I did a little research to find out whether I should refer to Native peoples as American Indians, Native Americans, First Nations, or something else.  There was a lot of conflicting information and I’d hate to get it wrong, but it was a good reminder that it’s hard to write a book like this.  Banks lived in a time where it was acceptable to create a character like Little Bear and portray him in a stereotypical way, but is it still okay to read?  My kids and I had lots of discussions not about Little Bear’s ethnicity or heritage, but about Omri’s treatment of him and the lessons he learns.  However you feel about the way it was done, it still makes for good conversations, ones that need to be had.

Goodreads rating: 4 stars for good writing, great adventure, and even better conversations that were started from reading it


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