This is the first book in a five book series. The first three books in this series have a lower Mom-Meter safety rating than the last two books in this series. Parents should be aware that the first book can stand alone, but as the rest of the series progresses, kids will want to finish the entire series. The books gradually deal more with magic and weighty moral dilemmas. The message of the books as a series is that it is dangerous to have power over another person’s life, and that our actions can dramatically affect future generations. You can read my review of the second book here, the third book here, the fourth book here, and the fifth book here
My Mom-Meter gives this particular book an overall safety rating of 2 (Moderately Safe) for ages 7 and up.
Wikipedia has thorough plot summaries of the books in this series here.
Here are the potential moral issues parents might wish to talk with their kids about:
- Omri has to lie a lot to hide the truth about the cupboard and key. He lies because he feels it’s the best way to protect the people he has brought to the present. Potential discussion point: Is there a difference between Omri hiding the powers of the cupboard from his brothers or even other adults that might exploit the power and Omri hiding the powers from his parents?
- Boone, the cowboy, drinks whiskey. Omri even steals some Scotch from his parents’ liquor cabinet for Boone to drink.
- Omri and his friend, Patrick, make the principal look foolish by showing him the “live” Indian and cowboy, knowing that he would think he was going crazy. Potential discussion point: Could Omri and Patrick have figured out a better way to get out of trouble?
- Omri lies to the teacher about drawing something that the cowboy actually drew. Potential discussion point: Was passing the cowboy’s work as his own to get praise as satisfying as if Omri had drawn it himself?
From a kid’s perspective: “I think kids ages 8-10 who like cowboys, Indians, and magic will like this book. I give it 3 stars out of 5 because it was not my favorite, but it was pretty good.”