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The Story of Little Black Sambo

3.91  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,124 Ratings  ·  189 Reviews
The Story of Little Black Sambo, a children's book by Helen Bannerman, a Scot who lived for 32 years in Madras in southern India, was 1st published in London in 1899. (An American edition of the book was illustrated by Florence White Williams.) In the tale, an Indian boy named Sambo prevails over a group of hungry tigers. The little boy has to give his colorful new clothes ...more
Hardcover, 109 pages
Published 1904 by Chatto & Windus (first published 1899)
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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
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
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.
Oct 11, 2012 Danny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
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.

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
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
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.
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
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
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!
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.
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
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
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
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
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
Malika Bourne
Aug 22, 2011 Malika Bourne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Dec 24, 2007 Kat rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Oct 08, 2015 Eryn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: picture-books
This book was passed down to me by my birthmother and as a child I would not go to sleep without it being read to me. I absolutely adore this book. The story follows a young boy by the name of Sambo as he sets out to retrieve some items for his mother but soon comes across three mean tigers, however he ends up successfully tricking all of them and the story ends happily. As I am older now, looking back on the book I can see the racist undertones. The new version changes the name and pictures but ...more
Sep 24, 2008 Chrissie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kids
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.
Nov 29, 2009 Celeste rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jul 25, 2009 Cami rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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.
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
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Little Black sambo 9 56 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
More about Helen Bannerman...

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