A Student's Alternative Chapter for The Indian in the Cupboard

Film poster image from The Indian in the Cupboard 1995 film directed by Frank Oz

Film poster image from The Indian in the Cupboard 1995 film directed by Frank Oz

This is a guest post by Sparkitivity's sixth-grade student mentee, Catherine B. Catherine excels in language arts and needed Sparkitivity to create an advanced reading and writing mentorship to supplement what her school could provide so that she could continue to grow as a learner. The following is the second part of her final writing assignment, Catherine's "alternative book chapter" for The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks. The prompt asks her to use imaginative thinking, one of the highest-level thinking skills, to drive her writing. 

The Assignment:

Main character Omri's friend Patrick acted more like a typical kid might act in relation to the magic of plastic figures coming alive. Imagine if it had been Patrick who discovered the magic of the cupboard. Write a pretend chapter on how the story might have unfolded from the moment an immature Patrick pulled a live Indian out of his cupboard. How might the events have taken place? The boys us avoided trouble in the real book with Omri's wise thinking, but how might it have been different if Patrick had been in charge?

Catherine's Alternative Chapter to The Indian in the Cupboard

"Why am I even friends with him?" Patrick thought, locking the pitiful plastic Indian in a beat-up old cupboard as he prepared to go to bed.

His best friend Omri had gotten him nothing but a plastic Indian for his birthday, and he felt the need to lock it up where it couldn’t be seen. Seeing it reminded him of his disappointment. Getting into his nightclothes, Patrick thought about his favourite present. Now, that skateboard was another thing. It was by far the best birthday present he had had in years. He could imagine himself, the wind in his face as he rode to school. All the other boys would be so jealous, and--


A loud sound awoke him from his daydreams. What in the world? Patrick looked around, but nothing had fallen from a shelf or his dresser, and that thunk wasn’t the sound of someone knocking on the door.

“Hello?” he asked timidly. He didn’t expect an answer, and he didn’t get one.


Again! What was it? It sounded like it came from the shelves next to his bed. Cautiously, Patrick got out of the chair he had been sitting in and stepped over to the shelves. Just as he had thought, the only thing there was the old cupboard and a few plastic figures that he especially didn’t want to step on (they were carrying sharp plastic weapons).


The cupboard rocked. Patrick’s heart jumped. What was in there? When he had put the Indian in the cupboard, it had been empty! Carefully, slowly, and quietly, Patrick unlocked and opened the cupboard.

In the cupboard stood a perfect, tiny--no, minute!--Indian. He had jet black hair, leggings on his tiny legs, and a single, straight feather at the back of his head. Patrick couldn’t believe his eyes.

A thousand thoughts flashed through Patrick’s mind. What would he do about this? Was the Indian real? Who could he tell? He didn’t want to talk to his father, of whom he was deeply afraid, and his brother was probably holed up doing homework, the stupid brainiac. He had decided two things. The Indian was a fake. It was probably put there by his brother as a trick. The detail was astounding, though. The second decision he made was that he needed to tell his mother. She was least likely to yell at him for disturbing her.

Then the Indian moved. Patrick took one look at him, realized the truth, and he fainted.

Patrick didn’t wake up until morning. His mother heard no sound in his room and thought that he had already gone to sleep, so she didn’t come in to say goodnight.

Patrick had a disturbing dream. “MOTHER!!! OTHER!!! MOTHER, COME HERE NO!!!” he screamed, wanting his mother to see the microscopic detail of the Indian.

This started a chain reaction. First, the Indian fell over backwards, covering his ears with his hands. But it was too late. Patrick’s yelling had literally ruptured the man’s eardrums.

Then, Patrick’s mother came rushing into the room.
“Patrick?” She had no idea what was wrong, but her son was yelling.
Finally, Patrick, looking from his mother to the Indian, realized what he had done. He saw the Indian’s ears bleeding and his mother in the doorway, one step away from getting extremely angry.

Patrick’s mother saw the Indian and fainted.

This left Patrick no options. His Indian was losing blood and his mother was deathly pale. He decided to show his brother. Patrick’s brother took one look at the Indian, grabbed him out of Patrick’s hand, and dropped him on the floor for no reason. The Indian lay there, unmoving. Patrick woke up with a jolt. He was sweating and he saw that his sheets had been twisted together as he thrashed.

Suddenly, Patrick remembered his dream. He ran to the cupboard and saw that the Indian wasn’t there. Looking around carefully, Patrick saw something red sticking out from behind the cupboard. Reaching back, he pulled the Indian out of the small space.

“You!” he said loudly. Then he remembered his dream and dropped his voice to a whisper. “You must never do that again! You’ll fall and die, or hide and get lost! Then nobody will ever be able to see you! They won’t believe me!"

Then, without further ado, Patrick found an old matchbox, poked a few holes in it with a sewing needle his mother had left in his room, slid the middle out, dropped the Indian inside, and closed the thing, making sure the Indian would be able to breathe but not escape. The man struggled violently inside the matchbox but didn’t manage to free himself. Seeing the struggle, Patrick realized that he wouldn’t really be able to take the Indian to school to show Omri until he had shown his parents. After all, he wanted them to believe him, and school could be a dangerous place. Still, Omri was his best friend and he had a right to see the Indian. Patrick compromised by putting the Indian back in the cupboard and getting ready to go to school.

His skateboard distracted him. After debating whether to ride it to school or not, Patrick decided not to. He was already late, and the bike was much faster than the skateboard. At school, Omri asked him if he liked his present.

“Oh, yes. That Indian was better than any other gift.”
“You know why?” Patrick asked, cutting Omri off. “It’s because he’s alive. I put him in a cupboard and locked the door, and now he’s a real living person!” And with that finale, Patrick got on his bike and pedaled home. Now Omri knew about the Indian, and if he didn’t believe Patrick, well, then he was probably very sensible.

After school, Patrick ran up to his room without so much as a hello to his mother. He flung open the cupboard door and saw the Indian. He was stiff, staying still in one pose. He was squatting down as if he was about to sit down, but he was frozen in place. Gingerly, Patrick prodded him. He fell over.

Patrick sat down on his bed and thought for a minute. He had put the plastic Indian in the cupboard, and he had turned into a live Indian. He had put the live Indian into the cupboard, and he had turned into plastic. Therefore, he should put the Indian back in the cupboard and he would turn live! Patrick was definitely not the sharpest knife in the block, but when he put his mind to it, he could think logically.

Acting on his thoughts, Patrick pulled out the live Indian about two minutes later. Aha! Think of all the fun he could have! Patrick wondered if he could bring any toy to life. He stooped to the floor and lifted up one of the fairly large tins that he kept his figures in. Taking a handful out, he stuck them in the cupboard, being careful to remove the live Indian beforehand. Closing the door and then opening it again, he saw terrified, horrified, detailed faces of people seeing him as a giant. There were soldiers, horses, and a lone princess that his friend’s sister must have put in when the family came over for dinner. Quickly, Patrick closed the cupboard. He opened it again and took all the people out. They were unimportant. What mattered was that it worked. Patrick put the Indian back in but didn’t close the door. He would have to show his parents this! First he would show the Indian to his mother. She would help explain it to his father.

“Patrick? Honey, are you feeling alright? I think we should take you to a doctor. Come along, now, get your coat.”

“Mother! I’m not ill! I just need you to see him. Then you’ll believe me. Ill indeed!”

“Patrick,” his mother began, carefully choosing her words. “An imagination is a wonderful thing, but yours is--well--completely out of control! There is no way you’re telling the truth when you say that there’s an Indian the size a playing card standing on the shelf in that decrepit cupboard. And honestly, when will you throw that thing in the scrap wood pile?! I just can’t stand this any longer. You better not be playing some trick on me. If you’re lying about this, you’re grounded!” And with that she began to climb the stairs, Patrick trailing in her wake.

The Indian had been snoozing. He got some sleep while he could, and there was no way he would be tired when it came time to go to war. These giants would not harm him! He would spear them with his knife!

A lot of things happened in the next 24 hours. Here are some highlights:

  1. Patrick’s mother had to have a drink or two or three to recover from seeing that her son was not lying about the Indian.

  2. Patrick’s father told him the he would grow up to be an aspiring scientist even though what Patrick had discovered had been nothing but luck and Patrick really had rotten grades.

  3. A team of scientists came to the house and carefully removed the Indian. They took him to a lab and ran some tests on him, determining that he was in face an actual human, just one of a small size.

  4. Patrick’s father received an astounding offer on the house from the government. This was only after the scientists realized that removing the cupboard from the house killed its magic. After all, everyone had big plans for what to do with the cupboard. Could unicorns come to life if somebody put plastic ones in the cupboard? Could dinosaurs? Dodo birds? Dearly missed extinct animals? PEOPLE??? It had lots of potential. Albert Einstein could repeat his last words to somebody who spoke German (his last words were mumbled to an English nurse who had no idea what they meant). All sorts of people could be brought back from the dead if people made a good enough plastic representation of them: William Shakespeare, and, uh, I guess just him! But Shakespeare is cool! He could write more tragedies that were just comedic.

  5. Patrick’s father signed over the house, collected his money, bought a new house, and started packing.

  6. Patrick’s brother was oblivious to all of this, being over at a friend’s house doing homework.

Patrick went to school the next day and bragged that now his father was rich and his mother could have lots of nice things and they would have a new big house. He also told everyone about the Indian in the cupboard. Everyone was impressed, of course.

THE END (because this is where the book would end. It would be quite a boring book).