How many of you remember a small movie called The Indian in the Cupboard? I remember loving it as a kid. Recently I was talking about the movie with my sister (don’t remember what sparked it) and she said that my brother-in-law’s cousin was in it as a background character in the school. So I immediately turned the movie on and whenever they were in school I asked my brother to point out his cousin. “I don’t know” was his response.
The next day I entered a bookshop for the first time in over 18 months because of — you know — and I saw a paperback edition of The Indian in the Cupboard and bought it. After reading it there were some major differences between the movie and the book.
The first major difference is that the book takes place in England and the movie takes place in New York City. I was surprised to find this out because I’m more familiar with the movie than the book and thought the book would take place in New York City. This was probably changed because there would be a larger audience appeal if the movie took place in the US.
Second, Little Bear talks like a generic spaghetti western Indian. In the movie, he spoke perfect English with some Iroquois the first time we meet him. Speaking of Little Bear, he’s a major dick in the book. He’s full of himself, he puts on the dead old Indian’s headdress and calls himself chief and bosses Omri around. He’s a lot more likable in the movie. I prefer the movie Little Bear any day.
Omri seems a bit older in the book than in the movie. In the book, he comes across as a twelve-year-old while in the movie he seems like he’s nine. Don’t know which version I prefer, though.
Story-wise, this is one of those rare times that the movie is better than the book. The characters are a lot more likable, the story has a smoother flow and more interesting scenes while the book is pretty boring. The book reads like a stale British children’s book that came out in the early ’20s or ’30s, not 1980. Omri and Patrick do get into a fit fight in the book and Omri and his brother do brawl in the book so that’s a plus.
Boon just cries and whines in the book. He was given a lot more characterization in the movie. He also did more in the movie.
While I may sound like I’m harping hard on the book, it’s not that bad of a book. It still has some value as a children’s book in that it has a great premise and even spawned two sequels, but the movie just blows it out of the water in terms of storytelling and characters. Read it only if you are like me and are just curious to see what the book is like but don’t expect it to be as enjoyable as the movie.