The Secret of the Indian by Lynne Reid Banks

The Secret of the Indian by Lynne Reid Banks This is the third book in The Indian in the Cupboard 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 first book here, the second book here, the fourth book here, and the fifth book here

My Mom-Meter for this particular book is 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 lies to explain to his parents how he got burned and how he and his friend, Patrick, scared away the burglars. Potential discussion point: why does Omri think he needs to lie to his parents?
  • Omri decides not to tell the police who the thieves were. Instead, he makes sure the bullies know that he recognized them. Potential discussion point: do you think that Omri made a wise decision?
  • His story wins the fiction contest (and 300 British pounds), and he feels guilty that it isn’t actually fiction. Potential discussion point: should Omri tell the truth about his story?
  • He has to deal with his guilty conscience over the dead Indians, since it is his fault that they had guns to begin with. Potential discussion point: were the Indians’ deaths his fault?
  • He has to tell lots of lies to cover the truth about the cupboard. Potential discussion point: are all of Omri’s lies hurting anything?
  • Patrick nearly dies in the desert and is rescued by a lady who carries him in the front of her chest (he is small, and everyone else is huge). It doesn’t elaborate much on being there, other than Patrick being embarrassed initially.
  • Omri’s dad catches him stealing Scotch (for Boone the cowboy) and makes him drink a full cup of it.
  • Omri’s story makes the principal at his school suspect that he had really seen the Indian and cowboy, and he confronts Omri, who continues to lie. Potential discussion point: are Omri’s lies really protecting his friends?
  • Patrick nearly dies in a tornado in Boone’s time period, and Omri accidentally brings a tornado back into the modern world when he brings Patrick back. The tornado tears up Omri’s house, saving him from having to tell his parents the truth. Potential discussion point: Omri and Patrick’s use of the power of the key to the cupboard caused a lot of destruction. Was it worth it for Patrick to have his adventure (and potentially save Boone’s life)?

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

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