The Key to the Indian by Lynne Reid Banks

The Key to the Indian by Lynne Reid Banks The Key to the Indian by Lynne Reid Banks This is the fifth (and final) book in The Indian in the Cupboard series. Overall, this book was really disappointing. It felt like the author just pulled together another book. There were several stretches of belief in the way Omri’s parents acted. 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 first book here, the second book here, the third book here, and the fourth book here.

My Mom-Meter safety rating for this particular book is a 3 (Caution) for ages 9 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:

  • Little Bear convinces Omri and his father to use their knowledge of what happened historically to Little Bear’s tribe to counsel Little Bear in how to lead his village. Potential discussion point: Was it wise to use history to change history?
  • Omri’s father learns about and explains to Omri just how terribly the Native American tribes were treated. Potential discussion point: Kids might be interested in learning about the history of Native Americans.
  • In this book, Omri’s father seems to be even less responsible with the power of the cupboard than when only Omri and Patrick knew about it. Potential discussion point: Is it true that sometimes kids are more responsible than their parents?
  • Omri’s father decides to keep the truth about the cupboard and key from Omri’s mother and brothers. Potential discussion point: Did Omri’s father make a good decision to keep the truth from the rest of the family?
  • Omri and his brother are accidently sent to India as marionette puppets during their great-grandfather’s time, and they get a glimpse of how poorly slaves were treated during that time. Potential discussion point: Parents might want to talk about slavery and how “good” people in history had slaves.
  • They also experience a snake charmer “hypnotizing” them, and they find themselves dancing whether they want to or not. Potential discussion point: Parents might want to discuss what they believe about hypnotism.
  • Omri and his father manage to transport themselves as wooden dolls to Little Bear’s village and witness an attack on the village. Very intense scenes are described, and some of the the attackers came after the women of the village.
  • Omri and his father are bathed (as wooden dolls) by Little Bear’s wife. Omri’s father says that he enjoyed it, but Omri is uncomfortable.
  • Omri and his father are used to help the women avoid the attackers, but the scene is very intense.
  • Omri’s father says damn during these scenes.
  • While Omri and his father are with Little Bear, Patrick brings back Boone and his wife and, through a series of accidents, nearly kills them in the bathtub. Potential discussion point: Did Patrick treat Boone and his wife like real people or like toys?
  • At the end of the book, Omri discovers that his mother knew all about the cupboard the whole time and that she shares his psychic powers. Potential discussion point: If you were Omri’s mom, would you have acted the way she did?

From a kid’s perspective: “I think this book was the worst of the series. Maybe kids 12 and up, who like  cowboys, Indians, magic, and time travel, will like it. I give it 1 star out of 5 stars.”

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