The Indian in the Cupboard is a low fantasy children's novel by the British writer Lynne Reid Banks. It was published in 1980 with illustrations by Robin Jacques (UK) and Brock Cole (US). It was later adapted as a 1995 children's film under the same name. Later books in the series were illustrated by Piers Sanford (later).
The original book was followed by four sequels: The Return of the Indian (1985); The Secret of the Indian (1989); The Mystery of the Cupboard (1993); and The Key to the Indian (1998). All were published by Doubleday Books in hardcover, then by Avon Books, now Harper Collins, in paperback. There have been multiple reprints in various formats, including movie tie-in editions. The publisher recommended reading level is age nine and up.
All the books revolve around a young boy, Omri, who discovers the powers of a magical cupboard. When plastic toys are locked in the cupboard, they become real, living beings, resulting in Omri befriending an 18th century Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) chief named Little Bear. As the series progresses, Omri and his friend Patrick learn more about the cupboard's powers, including its ability to transport people to and from through history.
The book has received numerous awards and been both critiqued and praised on its literary merit and has once been recommended reading in school curriculum. In a review of the first book of the series, Kirkus Reviews observed, "The first book had a fine balance between childish desire to play with the tiny figures and awareness that, though small, they were real people who ought not to be so manipulated." The book was reviewed in the 1981 New York Times article "BOOKS: Best For Children" where it was called "the best novel of the year". At one time classrooms and libraries widely accepted the book. The book has been used as part of teaching curricula for children at the novel's reading level.