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The Indian in the Cupboard Lynne Reid Banks

Default Smiles Obviously no one child has read all the children’s literature out there. Not even stuff that was only around when one was a child. That’s why if you see a children’s book that you’ve never seen before, you should grab it tightly with both hands.
Surprised Sharky 2 The reason he says grab it with both hands is, to be honest, there’s a level of creativity and charm in kid’s books that you can’t get many other places.
Default Smiles So when you can get it, don’t let it go. Or at least borrow it. Which is what we did for today’s review. So IMAGINE you got a nice little cabinet for your birthday. Your mother lets you go through some old keys to see if you can find one that fits it.
Confused Sharky That’s popped up in several books and I always found it weird. ‘Oh I don’t know what this key opens, but maybe it’ll open this completely random object that has never been around in the same time or place as this key’. But obviously you DO find a key that fits.
Default Smiles Your friend also gives you a small plastic toy for your birthday. Some friend. Anyway, you put the little Native American in your cabinet and lock it up, just for the fun of having something to lock. But lo and behold, you hear noises in the night, and open the cabinet to find a real, alive, and very small man!
Default Sharky A very unhappy, real, alive, and very small man.
Surprised Smiles Right, that’s the small spanner in the works. Obviously you don’t want anyone to find out, they’ll just take the cupboard away and maybe run experiments on your angry little man. So you’ll just have to smuggle up food, help him build a house, and make sure he keeps a low profile. Easy? You wish. You’ve got nosy brothers, a nosy friend, and a very, very bossy little guy on your hands.
Happy Sharky2 A lot of the charm comes from the same concept as the Enid Blyton stories of little people, or the Borrowers series. Tiny folk living life by making use of our giant objects. It’s doubly nice here because not only do the toys brought to life in the book have to navigate giant-land, but any objects they had on them become real, working miniatures. The Native American gets working arrows. A cowboy gets a gun and his horse. The illustrations that head each chapter explain the charm better than I could.

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smiles-intensifies TINY LIVING HORSES.
Happy Sharky2 He’s very excited about that. That fun aside, this is a surprisingly… mature book. A pleasant surprise. See the crux of the story is that these aren’t just toys that have ‘come to life’. Through some unexplained magic the little cabinet actually pulls a person out of the past to liven up the body of the plastic figure. So when the toy is ‘alive’ it’s actually a very real person. And because playable figures tend to be soldiers or cowboys and things like that, they’re very real people yanked unceremoniously out of very dangerous times, confused, disoriented, on edge, and definitely not ready to deal with the land of the giant young boys.
Default Smiles And that’s where the maturity comes in. The main character starts realising that these tiny people aren’t toys anymore, but actual people with histories and lives and their own minds and wants. Not something you can just pick up and play with. Of course that lesson is a little mitigated by the fact that he could just put them back in the cupboard and they’d turn back to plastic. But that’s used more so we don’t get depressed thinking these characters are trapped forever in the giant world.
Default Sharky Except for the fact that their being able to go back is totally reliant on the whims of a nine year old boy who, having brought one to life, certainly has no desire to send him back. Which is… unsettling if you think too hard about it. Then again Little Bull doesn’t really seem to care about going back. He’s happy being bossy.
Surprised Smiles What is a little weird is that Little Bull comes off as stereotyped at times. I’d be more forgiving if it was just the toy that was alive because the toy was obviously made to look like a stereotypical image because that’s what toys ARE. Easily identifiable images. It’s only weird because of the emphasis on ‘this is a real living person from the past’. Though to be fair maybe Little Bull is just a really, really embarrassing member of his tribe. There’s always one.
Default Sharky I’ll be totally honest I didn’t like him much, which is a shame because he’s there ALL the time. He’s just so bossy I want to throw him out a window. The charm of tiny people in a big place only barely saved him. Annoyingly enough the more we liked a character they smaller their parts were.
Happy Smiles Tommy! Tommy was our absolute favourite for all he was there for two scenes. A world war medic who, convinced he’s fallen asleep in the trench and is dreaming, cheerfully goes about patching up whoever he was called to help. Yes certainly giant boy I will help this actual cowboy dreams sure are interesting things and this is nicer than the war I wouldn’t mind visiting here again.
Default Sharky And then there’s Patrick, the main character’s friend.
Sad Smiles 2 Oh Patrick.
Surprised Sharky Another person to throw out the window. Normal sized so it might be harder.
Shocked Smiles Let’s be fair, he’s nine years old as well.
Angry Sharky 4 He’s a stupid nine year old is what he is. I’m sorry but there’s only so many times I can buy the ‘we fought because he nearly wrecked everything but we’re friends again because he stuck up for me in a key moment’ tactic. One time being stubborn and not listening to good sense, I’ll forgive that. Apologises, cries, and does even stupider things that get everyone into trouble and gets angry when someone tries to point out he’s being stupid again? OUT the window.

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3 thoughts on “The Indian in the Cupboard Lynne Reid Banks

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