The Story of Little Black Sambo
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The Story of Little Black Sambo

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  2,538 ratings  ·  172 reviews
The jolly and exciting tale of the little boy who lost his red coat and his blue trousers and his purple shoes but who was saved from the tigers to eat 169 pancakes for his supper, has been universally loved by generations of children. First written in 1899, the story has become a childhood classic and the authorized American edition with the original drawings by the autho...more
Hardcover, 64 pages
Published January 1st 1923 by HarperCollins (first published 1899)
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Manny
Jul 24, 2010 Manny marked it as to-read
Three Cautionary Tales About Etymology

When you work with language, you soon learn to be sceptical about apparently obvious explanations for where words come from. I was reminded of this fact earlier today. In the shower, I had what I fondly believed to be a minor eureka moment concerning the origin of the word "metrosexual". We'd been watching episodes from Series 1 of Sex and the City (by the way, these are infinitely better than the recent movie). Now "metrosexual" is clearly a combination of...more
Lisa Vegan
I just saw a Goodreads friend rate & review this, and it sparked my memory.

I absolutely loved this story as a small child, and to me it was about a boy who created a wonderful outcome for himself and who was the hero of the story. He’s intelligent, capable, creative, and very clever, and those pancakes were enticing and enviable.

It’s been close to 50 years since I had this story read to me or read it myself. As a 2 to 4 or 5 or 6 year old (1955-1959) I was not aware of any objectionable con...more
Danny
Of course, these days a book like Little Black Sambo is forbidden, being politically incorrect; never the less, it is a book that was read to me when I was a child, and which I enjoyed.
In the tale, a boy named Sambo outwits a group of hungry tigers; the little boy has to sacrifice his new red coat and his new blue trousers and his new purple shoes to four tigers, including one who wears his shoes on his ears, but Sambo outwits these predators and returns safely home, where he eats 169 pancakes...more
Jessica
Gorgeous illustrations. Historical Racist Connotation.

This book tries to "correct" the damage done by the American racist version of Little Black Sambo. I learned from the back notes the whole historical aspect and how society (with the help of a lot of people before my time) helped turn a beautiful oral tale into a racial representation of lazy, mixed, African Americans. I grew up with the knowledge of how racist Little Black Sambo was, and how during my mom/dad's time (60s) we fought against...more
Swankivy
There was something incredibly appealing about this book. I loved the story of the resourceful and brave child going out and outwitting tigers, and I have no idea what was so compelling about his articles of clothing being distributed amongst the vain tigers, but it just captured my attention as a child. And most who have read the book will understand why it made me hungry for pancakes at the end! I had a little trouble not feeling sorry for the tigers, but I rationalized it by reminding myself...more
Cheryl in CC NV
This review is for this edition. Christopher Bing's illustrations are gorgeous. The story is allowed to be an outright fantasy (after all, the boy is African but the parents, tigers, jungle, and food are Indian). The tigers melting into ghi is just plain funny - what small child doesn't imagine even sillier things? Bing chose to leave Bannerman's text intact, but rather to enhance it with so many details in the format of the book as a whole that we can easily believe she meant only joy and kindn...more
Squire
This was my favorite story growing up. LBS running around the tree chased by the tiger until it turned into butter was the craziest thing I'd heard about (at the time) and it always made me laugh. It also made me unafraid of meeting any tigers because I knew how to get rid of them! To those of you who cry foul and racism--shame on you. This is one of the great chlidhood stories and the story that started me on a life-long love of reading.
Serena
Jul 04, 2007 Serena added it
Shelves: kids
I grew up reading this book. It was one of my absolute favourites. I never saw the prejudice touch. I just liked the idea of the tiger(s?) turning to butter from running so fast.
Not until some years ago in a New Orleans bookstore where it was labled under something like 'racist books for kids' did I ever have an inkling it might offend. Shows just how oblivious I can be.

Kevan
Although it is now not politically correct, I loved this book, my mom used to read it to me over and over. I always thought it funny that tigers could turn into butter.
 Linda (Miss Greedybooks)
Racist - Phhhhttt! I love pancakes :O
Cindi

What makes a book racist? Is it the text or the illustrations? A combination of the two? And does a book once deemed racist have a place in children's fiction in an historical context? Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman is a book that has been called racist, been challenged by thousands, and even inspired the bankruptcy of a series of restaurants called 'Sambo's."

Whether this book in it's original form or any of the updated versions is racist, is up to the individual to decide. However, the b...more
Kate
Yes, it's really, really racist. But when I was little, my Grammy read it to me all the time and I loved it. It's probably not a great book to read to kids now, and I'm sure it's out of print, but I used to love it. I was a little kid. I think it was one of the first books I learned to read.
Like a lot of the other reviewers have said, I thought the little boy was clever and that tigers really could turn into butter if they ran fast. Little kids don't see it as racist. I don't know what happened...more
Alissa Bach
I noticed that someone on my friend list read and rated this and it brought back some memories for me. I owned this book as a child. The original one. Now before you jump all over me, know this: This was back in the 1970s, before political correctness became what it is today. In hindsight, yes, there were definitely some racist elements to the book. So much that it makes the Adult Me cringe to think that I owned (and liked) this book as a little kid. But in defense of Little Kid Me, I didn't kno...more
Malika Bourne
I haven't read this in years, but I remember it so well. I check3d it out often from the libraray when I was young. At the time I thought it was the best book ever. I havn't seen a copy in years, but I know that some pre-school won't allow it becuase they belive it is stero typical. My favorite part was when the Sambo got to eat tiger pancakes.
Kat
Go beyond the racist disaster that this book became and go back to its roots in India. This was written about India by a writer from Scotland. The little purple slippers are still a hoot. It always made me sad that other publishers ruined this story and then a stupid restaurant sold pancakes with a twist. sigh.
Sherry (sethurner)
It has been ages and ages since I read Little Black Sambo, and whie I know that it has been deemed politically incorrect, the very title being an insult, as a child I loved the Indian boy with his umbrella and the tigers chasing around the tree. I smile just thinking of all the colors in this little story.
Chrissie
As a kid I loved this book, and I had no idea that it was racist in tone. But that was back in the 50s. I think the tone is a result of how a parent reads the story to the child. In addition, it is how a child is raised that teaches or does not teach racist values.
Celeste
Yes, I loved Little Black Sambo also. There is nothing racist in my love for this book. As a child, what I loved about this wonderful story was that the little boy got away from the tiger and the tiger turned into butter. What a great imagination.
Cami
I thoroughly enjoyed the cleverness of this book.
The tight-knit family obviously loves each other and it's shown in simple ways.
I have an India-based version. I supposed it's supposed to be more politically correct, but my heart belongs to the original.
Shelleen
Grandma Weight had this book. It was the only children's book I remember reading at her house. I almost always read it every time we went there. I do not have the slightest clue how old it was but it must have bee old because of all the yellow pages.
Suzette
The book is a wonderful children's book. As a child I often ate at Sambo's and was completely oblivious to the existence of this book or the racial slurs within the restaurant. I've wanted to read this book for ages....I am glad I finally did.
Julie Decker
In this book, a little boy outwits vain tigers by giving them all of his special clothes, one by one. There was something really special about the significance put on each item, and when the tigers' vanity did them in and somehow transformed them into butter for the protagonist to put on his pancakes, I didn't feel too sorry for the tigers since I could rationalize away their very harsh punishment by reminding myself that they would have hurt the main character.

The title of this book has been cr...more
Rebekah Miller
May 20, 2009 Rebekah Miller rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Rebekah by: My grandmother
My grandmother used to tell me this book from memory. I always asked her to read it to me before bed. A few years ago she gave me her original copy for Christmas. The best give I ever got. Politically correct or not, I love this story.
Bob Havey
Read the Simon & Schuster (1948) version back when I was a kid. No one thought it was racist, but that's only because it isn't. I bought a copy for my collection several years ago. Any book that's banned is worth having.
Tara Calaby
I thought it was fine as a kid, but I am sure I would be horrified if I read it again now, given that this is one of those books that is no longer considered okay. (I'm a bit scared to re-read it, actually!)
Blaine
Little Black Sambo was the first banned book that I ever read. Long before I understood the concepts of race or racism, I knew that tigers could turn into butter and taste great on pancakes.
Camille
this was one of my favorites growing up! i know it's hard to find due to political correctness, but i don't remember thinking anything of the story other than i hope Little Black Sambo survives.
booklady
Read this as a child and loved it. Of course it always made me hungry and I loved pancakes anyway, so that didn't help. Hope I can find a copy of it if ever I have grandchildren to read it to.
Dick
This book was deemed politically incorrect some years ago. Found it in a book store on Edisto Island. It is the same - a children's book and frankly perfectly safe. Glad I found it.
Betsy Beane
This was my favorite story as a child! The tiger that turned to butter, the purple slippers, it was read to us with love and it is too bad that some people thought it was improper.
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Little Black sambo 9 53 Feb 03, 2013 02:03AM  
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Helen Bannerman (born Brodie Cowan Watson) was the Scottish author of a number of children's books, the most famous being Little Black Sambo. She was born in Edinburgh and, because women were not admitted as students into British Universities, she sat external examinations set by the University of St. Andrews and attained the qualification of LLA. She lived for a good proportion of her life in Ind...more
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