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Little Black Sambo (Illustrated Edition) (Dodo Press)
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Little Black Sambo (Illustrated Edition) (Dodo Press)

3.94  ·  Rating Details ·  4,227 Ratings  ·  291 Reviews
By the Scottish author of a number of children's books, the most famous being Little Black Sambo. She lived for a good proportion of her life in India, where her husband was an officer in the Indian Medical Service. The story takes place in a fairy tale India where a little boy outwits the predators in his world, to return safely home and eat 169 pancakes for his supper. I ...more
Paperback, 48 pages
Published May 1st 2006 by Dodo Press (first published 1899)
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Matthew O'Leary Before I give my opinions on these, I should point out that I am white and do not have children. So take my opinions with a grain of salt.

I don't…more
Before I give my opinions on these, I should point out that I am white and do not have children. So take my opinions with a grain of salt.

I don't think 21st century Black children would consider it offensive, mostly because the idea of "Sambo" is so antiquated. Their parents, however, knowing a little bit more about Black history might have more issues with it. I don't remember Sambo portrayed as a buffoon, but more as a clever kid. I think the central idea of the book is "clever ideas can come from unlikely people" which is racist in the sense that it begins with the supposition that a Black child would be unintelligent.

It's certainly not a hateful racism, written with the intent to disparage Blacks, but it does still seem to come from a place of ignorance.(less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Manny
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
Zoë
Feb 19, 2015 Zoë rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Book 18/100 for 2015

This is the updated and more PC version of Little Black Sambo, which I also had to read for my class. I loved the illustrations in this version and I really don't think Bannerman was attempting to be as blatantly racist as it seems, but now after our class discussion, that's all I can think about.
Zoë
Mar 01, 2015 Zoë rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Book 17/100 for 2015

So we had to read this book and the updated version of it for my Children's Lit class and WOW it's super duper racist! Its history is pretty interesting, though and our discussion was eye-opening.
Danny
Oct 11, 2012 Danny rated it liked it
Shelves: children-s
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
Bob Havey
May 25, 2012 Bob Havey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jessica
Apr 05, 2016 Jessica rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: picture-books
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
Serena
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.

Beatrice Gormley
As a child with no awareness of racism, I loved Little Black Sambo. My sister and brother and I would act the story out, especially the part where the tigers ran around the tree until they melted into a puddle of butter. I never recognized the discrepancy between the setting of the story (India) and the illustrations (showing the characters as Africans). But when my own children were ready for picture books, I was embarrassed by Little Black Sambo, and I didn't read it to them. Later, I was thri ...more
Kate
Sep 17, 2011 Kate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Squire
Dec 17, 2013 Squire rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Poppy
Dec 22, 2015 Poppy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've never read a physical copy of this book, but it used to be one of my favorite stories that my grandmother told me when I was little. Back then, any potentially racist content went over my head. I (a white American) just found it cool that a little boy outsmarted a cluster of tigers. And even cooler (though kind of horrifying now that I think about it) that those tigers melted into butter.

What a strange but memorable story this is. And apparently forever lodged in my memory.

I've not read any
...more
Nabila Tabassum Chowdhury
বইটি রেট করতে পারলাম না।

-> যদি বরণবাদ বিবেচনায় আনি তাহলে এই বইটার রেটিং নিরঘাত একতারা।
-> যদি মজার গলপটাকে বিবেচনায় রেটিং পাঁচতারা না হয়ে যায় না।

তাই রেটিং অমিমাংসিত।


->বরণবাদকে কেন বিবেচনায় আনবো?
--->'সামবো'র মত একটি বরনবাদী শবদ এবং বরণবাদী ডরয়িংগুলোকে বিবেচনায় না আনাটা সমভব না। এগুলোর মাঝে বরণবাদ এমবেডেড।

->বরনবাদ কে কেন বিবেচনায় আনবো না?
---> আমি যে ভারসনটি পড়েছি সেখানে সামবো শবদটি এবং বরণবাদী ডরয়িংগুলো উপসথিত থাকলেও সারবিক উপসথাপনায় বা এমবিয়েনসে কোথাও কৃষণকায় জাতিকে খাটো করার চে
...more
Devlin Scott
Same illustrations I remember as a child. Brilliant classic.

Often touted as a banned book (due to the character's names), this is a wonderful classic for children. A fun out-loud reading experience to share with your child. Charming!
Kevan
Jul 16, 2008 Kevan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childrens-books
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.
Agne
4.5 out of 5
The same endearing story (Helen Bannerman's The Story of Little Black Sambo) with the new characters' names and GORGEOUS illustrations!
Beth
Not sure how to rate this. Loved it as a kid - but seeing it through an adult's eyes makes me realize how racist it is/was. No rating given.
 Linda (Miss Greedybooks)
Racist - Phhhhttt! I love pancakes :O
Amy
My niece and nephew loved The Story of Little Babaji! The illustrations in this book are just fantastic, and the expressions on the faces of the tigers throughout the book are such fun to look at! The kids laughed at each tiger as it strode around in an article of Babaji's fine clothing, and they laughed as Babaji taunted the vain and stubborn tigers while he took his beautiful clothes back.

I was a little worried that the kids might not be up for this book. The story is a little long, and at sev
...more
Cindi
Jun 24, 2011 Cindi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

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
Michael
This is fun story, although a little terrifying since four tigers are trying to eat the main character. He delays the inevitable by giving them all his belongings, and they end up fighting each other because of their own vanity instead of eating the boy. It has two surprise endings, one for the tigers, and one for the family at dinner.

I liked this story particularly because of the Indian setting, with authentically-named Indian characters and cultural references. There is a note at the end of th
...more
Sonia
Apr 24, 2015 Sonia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tutoring-books
This is one of the few books I know that is set in India.

Basically its about a boy named Babaji and his fancy clothing that he gives up to tigers who won't eat him if he does.
All the tigers fight....and become into Ghi (clarified butter that is healthier for you).

I laughed at this book. The book used words like mamaji (mom), Papaji (dad) and Babaji (son) those are not names. The whole ghi part of the story just popped out of nowhere I thought the tigers would just stay stuck by the tree. I als
...more
Bobby
Nov 03, 2008 Bobby rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Based on a 100-year old story, this book has been updated and it's original (racist, per report) illustrations have been replaced. I never saw the original illustrations so can't comment on that, but the illustrations in this book are great! As is the story, which is long enough to be appropriate for 4-8 year olds I'd guess. With a little bit of fear (there are tigers threatening to eat the hero), some cleverness (how he outwits the tigers), and a lot of whimsy, the charm of the story transcends ...more
Sheridan
This book compiles different stories of the adventures a young black boy named Little Black Sambo goes on where he meets many different animals. From escaping the fury of fighting tigers, showing a baby elephant home, and dealing with many more animals such as bears, monkeys, and crocodiles, Sambo has himself quite the adventure.
At first I really enjoyed this book because the first section was about how he outwitted the tigers when they stole his clothes. I wanted to read more about this except
...more
KennyO
Dec 01, 2014 KennyO rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I read this in childhood I didn't see any racism in it, probably because this was several years before I met anyone of another race. Even at that age, though, the idea of tigers running in circles to turn into butter was absurd to my little mind. But that was no more farfetched than a kid near my age eating 169 pancakes. As I grew older I learned to interpret the illustrations as belittling black people. I didn't see it as racist until I was taught to see it as racist. It was another kids' ...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
Lydia
Sep 19, 2016 Lydia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story of a little boy, whose parents give him fine clothes. He decides to take a stroll in the jungle where tigers end up taking away his finery in exchange for letting him live. But the tigers get into an argument over their taken finery, giving Babaji a chance to reclaim his own.

This is an odd story. Originally written in 1899 and with characters that did not have Indian names (and originally titled The Story of Little Black Sambo), but clearly meant to take place in India, it has been re

...more
Pat
Sep 30, 2016 Pat rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was my favourite book when I was very little - I think it might have been the first book I read all by myself - apart from those stupid Janet & John books we had to read at school! I loved Little Black Sambo and I got a little thrill when I saw the book in the list of banned and challenged books.
Apparently the do-gooders would have us believe that little black Sambo would make the children racist. Well I'm not. I had a black doll, a gollywog and I loved Little Black Sambo but I don't d
...more
Madison Young
This story tells the tale of what happens to Black Sambo’s clothes that his mother made for him. While walking through the jungle, Black Sambo came across 4 tigers who said they would not eat Black Sambo if he were to give them a piece of his fine clothing. Black Sambo obeyed, but after that the tigers got in a fight over who was the grandest and eventually took of the clothes. Black Sambo took his clothes back and they tigers fought until they all melted into a pool of butter. I would recommend ...more
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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
More about Helen Bannerman...

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