The Mystery of the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks

The Mystery of the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks This is the fourth book in The Indian in the Cupboard series. It is a little darker than the previous three books. There are heavy themes of jealousy, theft, and the implications of changing history (via time travel). The overall message of this particular book seems to be that there is more than one side to a story. 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 fifth 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:

  • There’s mention of Tarot cards, crystal balls, etc., but only lead divination and second sight (psychic abilities) are taken seriously.
  • Omri learns that the key was made by Jessica Charlotte D, his great-great-aunt, in anger. She made it to steal a pair of earrings from her sister. Her theft started a chain of events that ruined her sister’s (Omri’s great-grandmother) life. Potential discussion point: How did Jessica’s anger and jealousy affect those she loved?
  • Jessica Charlotte has a son out of wedlock. It is referenced as scandalous, but not dwelt upon in detail.
  • Jessica Charlotte’s son was controlled by bitterness toward the plastic industry, and made the cupboard to hold in all his anger. Potential discussion point: Did his anger have any consequences?
  • Jessica Charlotte discovered the cupboard and key’s unique properties, and brought back several people from other times to visit. One girl, Jenny, had such a hard life in her real time, that she pleaded to stay always in modern day. She lived 30 years longer, and then she was apparently taken off of life support in her time, and so died in modern times. Potential discussion points: Was it wise to keep Jenny in the modern world? What did she potentially miss out on by escaping her own time period? Was it kind of Jessica (and, later, Tom) to keep her as company?
  • At the end of the book, Omri is forced to tell his father, who agrees not to tell anyone. Potential discussion point: Why do you think Omri’s father agrees not to tell anyone?

From a kid’s perspective: “I think kids 9-13 who like  cowboys, Indians, magic, and time travel will like it. I give it 3 stars out of 5 stars.”

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