Sometimes you revisit something from your childhood and find it better than before. Other times, the sense of nostalgia is not enough to show you how the item in question wasn't as good as you remembered it, and thus expected it, to be. I had both reactions when I picked up The Indian in the Cupboard to read for the first time in about twenty-three years.
The story of the beloved children's classic is familiar to all. An English boy named Omri recieves an old cupboard and key from his brother and mom respectively for his birthday. While using the cupboard to display his tiny plastic figures, Omri discovers that something about the cupboard and/or key seems to bring them to life. What a discovery to make! He is stunned and thrilled to have his "own" little person, the Indian Little Bear.
Eventually, Omri discovers that this is not magically turning plastic to life, but somehow snatching, by magic, real people and substituting them for the plastic figures in the cupboard. With this realization, Omri (and later, his best friend Patrick) come to understand the awesome responsibility for caring for very much real, however tiny, people.
Overall, the book stood up well over time. Some of the behavior of the boys was understandable for their age group, but instead of just passing over it, I got aggravated with how silly they were acting. That and the plot being much shorter (or seeming that way now versus when I was eleven years old) made it not as much fun as it was when I first read it.
Overall, though, the story was impressive since it was so much more than about the magic of bringing these figures to life as little people. Little Bear, Boone the Cowboy, other figures, Omri, Patrick, so on, all had real lives and cultural differences that had to be bridged to be understood. Forcing others to accept your culture, forcing cultures together, treating people as less than human, all are bad ideas, as Omri and Patrick learned.
Despite some creative license to make the story more enjoyable for the reader, Lynne Reid Banks kept the historical information overall quite accurate, which was another good thing.
This was a fun fantasy romp that also acted as a story on learning important lessons of responsibility and cultural awareness. I highly recommend it.