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Little Black Sambo (Illustrated) (Children's Picture Books)

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Review : The story of little black Sambo is truly a classic from all who remember it from our childhood.Helen Bannerman wrote this story for her two little children while traveling with them by train across India. If people would LOOK AT THE ILLUSTRATIONS they would see that Sambo is a little Indian boy from India, continents away from America and the Cival war and or South Review : The story of little black Sambo is truly a classic from all who remember it from our childhood.Helen Bannerman wrote this story for her two little children while traveling with them by train across India. If people would LOOK AT THE ILLUSTRATIONS they would see that Sambo is a little Indian boy from India, continents away from America and the Cival war and or South. I ran 2 independant bookstores some 12 to 14 years ago and when I finally found THE STORY OF LITTLE BLACK SAMBO in print again I'd order maybe 60 copies a week and could not keep this wonderful little storybook in stock. Almost every buyer were grandparents who could not wait to introduce their grandchildren to a book we all knew and loved. It is a must have for all collectors of wonderful literature!


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Review : The story of little black Sambo is truly a classic from all who remember it from our childhood.Helen Bannerman wrote this story for her two little children while traveling with them by train across India. If people would LOOK AT THE ILLUSTRATIONS they would see that Sambo is a little Indian boy from India, continents away from America and the Cival war and or South Review : The story of little black Sambo is truly a classic from all who remember it from our childhood.Helen Bannerman wrote this story for her two little children while traveling with them by train across India. If people would LOOK AT THE ILLUSTRATIONS they would see that Sambo is a little Indian boy from India, continents away from America and the Cival war and or South. I ran 2 independant bookstores some 12 to 14 years ago and when I finally found THE STORY OF LITTLE BLACK SAMBO in print again I'd order maybe 60 copies a week and could not keep this wonderful little storybook in stock. Almost every buyer were grandparents who could not wait to introduce their grandchildren to a book we all knew and loved. It is a must have for all collectors of wonderful literature!

30 review for Little Black Sambo (Illustrated) (Children's Picture Books)

  1. 4 out of 5

    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 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 "metro" (city) and "sexual" (sex)... most of the guys in Sex and the City are metrosexuals... the word "metrosexual" started appearing frequently in the late 90s... Sex and the City also started around then. Surely this couldn't be a coincidence? But, after a quarter of an hour of googling, I had to admit it was. The word "metrosexual" was coined in 1994, by journalist Mark Simpson; Sex and the City didn't appear until four years later. Basing the word on the TV series would have been witty, but doing it the other way round was just stupid. I gave up. While shopping at Tesco, I thought about similar incidents. I loved the story we were told by our one-time au pair Isabel. Her father was on some committee, and the phrase "manual labour" came up in a document they were drafting. A woman objected on the grounds that it was sexist: it should be "personal labour". Isabel's father had to go and find a dictionary to convince her that "manual" has nothing to do with "man"; it comes from the Latin manus, "hand", i.e. "done with the hands". The woman eventually gave in, but only after everyone else on the committee started laughing at her. You're wondering what this has to do with Little Black Sambo, but I've saved my best story for last. (Names and other details have been changed to protect the innocent). Suppose you're an American visiting Stockholm, and you're invited to a party. You find yourself next to a striking couple. She's obviously Swedish: tall, blonde, blue eyes. He's a hunky Denzel Washington lookalike. You introduce yourself. The woman tells you her name. Then she says, or at least she appears to say, "And this is my Sambo". His English doesn't seem to be so great; he just smiles and nods vaguely. You're aghast at her casual racism and insensitivity, and move on as quickly as you can. But... I'm afraid you've just been involved in a linguistic friendly fire incident. English is notorious for lacking a commonly used word that means "person you live with and have sex with, but are not married to". Swedish doesn't have this problem, and, you've guessed it, the word is sambo. It has absolutely nothing to do with the English word, and originally comes from the phrase SAMmanBOende under äktenskapsliknande förhållanden - "living together in marriage-like circumstances". You can see why an abbreviation was introduced. Since there is no corresponding English expression and the Swedish one is so useful, Swedes, at least on their home ground, often use it even when speaking English. Moral: just like any other consumer product, words often don't come from the place you think they do. Read the fine print on the package.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Bradley

    Rather more interesting than I thought it would be! And no, I don't know why anyone would think this was racist. The kid pulled a golden apple trick on the four tigers and let them fight amongst themselves, finally getting his clothes back. I don't know about any of you, but that's a clever move. Briar Rabbit-like. So yeah, I like. :) Tiger run around the tree, indeed! Rather more interesting than I thought it would be! And no, I don't know why anyone would think this was racist. The kid pulled a golden apple trick on the four tigers and let them fight amongst themselves, finally getting his clothes back. I don't know about any of you, but that's a clever move. Briar Rabbit-like. So yeah, I like. :) Tiger run around the tree, indeed!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Manuel Antão

    If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. Gray vs. Black: "The Story of Little Black Sambo" by Helen Bannerman (Original Review, 1981-01-07) Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, anyone? The whole notion of "tainted classics" gives me the creeps. "Tainted?" Sez who? But changing them to make them more PC is even creepier. Read on... This is a true story, although it's hard to believe. In the 1980's I was perusing the selection on offer in the children's section of an otherwise wonderful books If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. Gray vs. Black: "The Story of Little Black Sambo" by Helen Bannerman (Original Review, 1981-01-07) Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, anyone? The whole notion of "tainted classics" gives me the creeps. "Tainted?" Sez who? But changing them to make them more PC is even creepier. Read on... This is a true story, although it's hard to believe. In the 1980's I was perusing the selection on offer in the children's section of an otherwise wonderful bookstore, the kind long gone now. I was absolutely staggered to pick up a book--an actual, in-my-hand book--called "Little Gray Sambo."

  4. 5 out of 5

    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 content 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 content; I did not know that sambo was a racist term and the pictures did not raise a red flag for me, and I’m positive the same goes for my parents. That doesn’t mean we weren’t ignorant, and that’s disconcerting. Reading about his book now, I am saddened to recognize racist content (at least in the version I knew) and I must say the tigers turning into butter is another disturbing aspect for me. Both the racism & depiction of the tigers would keep me from recommending it to today’s children. I’m doing what I’ve done with most books here at Goodreads: rating it based on my opinion when I read it or had it read to me. Now, I suspect the version I knew would get 1 star; the revised versions might fare better.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Zoë

    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. 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.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Zoë

    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. 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.

  7. 5 out of 5

    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. 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.

  8. 5 out of 5

    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 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 that image. I remember them taking me to the DuSable Museum in Chicago to show me the Little Black Sambo collection, and just how that use to "define" us to the mainstream American world. Christopher Bing does the story justice as he makes the illustrations just "pop" out from the text and beautiful illustrate the text...and even though I'm sure it has its uses in a private collection, and public collection, I'm not sure I'd want to open a can of worms to use as a "story-time." I just think the history of it goes back to deep, and I'm not sure how my parents would've reacted to taking this book home...maybe a new generation would be different, but I'm not sure I'd want my kids at a young age to know that ugly history. I'm sure a lot of people have a disconnect towards it or feel that it "didn't change the way they viewed people, or that they were ignorant to the racist undertones growing up..." Yet...my upbringing was a lot different. I'm struggling at wondering if I think this would be a perfect "older" child gateway book to talk about racism or the history of race in America. It's weird because of how I was raised...I have such mixed feelings on this book. :)

  9. 5 out of 5

    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 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 for his supper.

  10. 4 out of 5

    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. 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.

  11. 4 out of 5

    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 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 thrilled when Bannerman's story was republished as Little Babaji, with illustrations that set the scene firmly in India. And not only that--these new pictures are delightful and hilarious. Now my grandsons play Little Babaji, shouting "I'm the grandest tiger in the jungle!" and running around a tree until they melt into butter.

  12. 4 out of 5

    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 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 to the copy we had, with these great illustrations, but I really wish I still had it.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Joan

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The history of this book is interesting. Bannerman lived in India where the British used what now are considered racist terms for Indians, which is where the original title comes from: The Story of Little Black Sambo. However, Bannerman lost the copyright in the United States. Other people put out copies of this book with highly racist caricatures of the family of humans. Kids always loved the story but the racist overtones were impossible to ignore. In 1996, a case of great minds thinking alike The history of this book is interesting. Bannerman lived in India where the British used what now are considered racist terms for Indians, which is where the original title comes from: The Story of Little Black Sambo. However, Bannerman lost the copyright in the United States. Other people put out copies of this book with highly racist caricatures of the family of humans. Kids always loved the story but the racist overtones were impossible to ignore. In 1996, a case of great minds thinking alike occurred when two editions of the Bannerman book hit the market. One was by a pair of well known African American author and Illustrator, called Sam and the Tigers, a retelling of Little Black Sambo. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8... The other was this book. This is identical to the original story except for renaming the human family with Indian (India Indian, to be clear!) names. I fell in love with this book, and have read it in many story times to kids who adored it. I just bought a copy for my first grandchild due this summer. Little Babji's Mom and Dad outfit Little Babaji who goes for a walk in the jungle and meets several greedy tigers who demand the various new articles of clothing and accessories from Little Babaji. How he gets even and the final result will give just about every kid around a few blissful dreams! (trick I used in story time: I'd get to the final theft when Little Babaji was down to undies and ask the kids to guess what happens next, then turn the page. Of course all the kids were waiting to see if the undies come off! spoiler alert: they don't!). Highly recommended version to give kids a daydream of pancakes for supper in positively ridiculous quantities which add to the fun!

  14. 4 out of 5

    J

    Fortunately the preface gives the reader a heads-up that Sambo isn't African or African American but Indian. As a result the following tigers and the mentioned ghee now make a lot more sense to those who are curious to know. At the same time the usage of the names that she chose and the way that her characters were portrayed throws the book into cultural confusion. And it is these two elements that trys to bring the book into the realm of being racist. But if that is the case then why are the Fortunately the preface gives the reader a heads-up that Sambo isn't African or African American but Indian. As a result the following tigers and the mentioned ghee now make a lot more sense to those who are curious to know. At the same time the usage of the names that she chose and the way that her characters were portrayed throws the book into cultural confusion. And it is these two elements that trys to bring the book into the realm of being racist. But if that is the case then why are the tigers also stylized so? The writing itself, though, is far from being racist. The story searches the love of the little boy's parents as they present him with new clothes and then his adventures as he goes forth to enjoy them. Unfortunately on his adventures he meets some problems and so the book shows the reader the cleverness of little Sambo as he gets out of each scrape. There are no big words and the writing is very simple yet enjoyable. This would definitely be a good book to share with the little ones who will appreciate that the hero of the story is just like them. And for those who want to point the story as being racist sometimes you just need to put those thoughts aside and allow the story to just be a story.

  15. 5 out of 5

    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. 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.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Gerry

    Written and illustrated by Scottish author Helen Bannerman in October 1899, 'The Story of Little Black Sambo' tells the tale of a little black boy who lived with his mother, Black Mumbo, and his father, Black Jumbo. His parents wanted him to be smart so his mother made him a beautiful red coat and a pair of beautiful blue trousers while his father went to the bazaar and bought him a beautiful green umbrella and a pair of purple shoes with crimson soles and crimson linings. Little Black Sambo cer Written and illustrated by Scottish author Helen Bannerman in October 1899, 'The Story of Little Black Sambo' tells the tale of a little black boy who lived with his mother, Black Mumbo, and his father, Black Jumbo. His parents wanted him to be smart so his mother made him a beautiful red coat and a pair of beautiful blue trousers while his father went to the bazaar and bought him a beautiful green umbrella and a pair of purple shoes with crimson soles and crimson linings. Little Black Sambo certainly looked grand. But when he went for a walk in the jungle in his new outfit he encountered trouble. A tiger was going to eat him up until Little Black Sambo gave him his new red coat. Then another tiger felt the same way and was going to eat him until he received Little Black Sambo's new blue trousers. And so it went on, another tiger was given his purple shoes while yet another tiger, who was also going to eat him up, was given his umbrella. Little Black Sambo was left crying for he had lost all his fine belongings. But then he heard a horrible loud noise, 'Gr-r-r-r-r-rrrrrr'. Hidden behind a tree he saw that the tigers were fighting amongst themselves over the clothes and umbrella. They were very angry with each other and were circling a tree with their tails intertwined while the clothes and umbrella laid on the floor beside them. They were frantic and were running round the tree so fast that they eventually wore themselves away and melted into a great big pool of melted butter. It so happened that at that moment Black Jumbo was returning home with a new brass pot and when he saw the melted butter he put it all in his pot to take home to his wife to use in her cooking. Black Mumbo was thrilled and said, 'Now, we'll all have pancakes for supper!' And she, Black Mumbo and Little Black Sambo, who had returned in his new outfit, all filled themselves with a mighty supper. Black Mumbo ate 27 pancakes, Black Jumbo ate 55 but Little Black Sambo was the star of the show with 169 pancakes eaten … he was so hungry! It is a rather bizarre story but it became a childhood classic and the authorized American edition with the original drawings by the author sold hundreds of thousands of copies. But I am not too sure how it would be taken today.

  17. 4 out of 5

    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. 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.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    I can see why it is controversial. Of course, I knew what to expect, but the illustrations still shocked me a bit. It is certainly not the kind of picture book I grew up with. The story itself is merely dull and seemingly well-meaning. He doesn't DO anything remotely objectionable; it's just silly nonsense like many other picture book stories. I can see why it is controversial. Of course, I knew what to expect, but the illustrations still shocked me a bit. It is certainly not the kind of picture book I grew up with. The story itself is merely dull and seemingly well-meaning. He doesn't DO anything remotely objectionable; it's just silly nonsense like many other picture book stories.

  19. 4 out of 5

    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! 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!

  20. 5 out of 5

    SheAintGotNoShoes

    I am not part of the PC brigade but more a believer in fairness, honesty and kindness. This book was so offensive, I winced and cringed while reading it. I was surprized to see that this was a 'cleaned up ' version, I can only imagine how bad the original was. 😮 😮 😮 I am not part of the PC brigade but more a believer in fairness, honesty and kindness. This book was so offensive, I winced and cringed while reading it. I was surprized to see that this was a 'cleaned up ' version, I can only imagine how bad the original was. 😮 😮 😮

  21. 4 out of 5

    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.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    I do not enjoy books that I consider racist, although I do know this was acceptable at the time.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Agnė

    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! 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!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Cassandra Gelvin

    Because there are so many tigers on the old plantations. This book is only bad because of Helen Bannerman's original racist drawings and the names of the characters. The characters don't act in a particularly stereotypical way, and the message of the book isn't inherently bad. Clearly the story is set in India, and I don't know why Bannerman decided to draw the characters as awful stereotypes from the American South. There are no tigers in the Southern United States, and ghi (or ghee) is even sta Because there are so many tigers on the old plantations. This book is only bad because of Helen Bannerman's original racist drawings and the names of the characters. The characters don't act in a particularly stereotypical way, and the message of the book isn't inherently bad. Clearly the story is set in India, and I don't know why Bannerman decided to draw the characters as awful stereotypes from the American South. There are no tigers in the Southern United States, and ghi (or ghee) is even stated to be from India. But the first sentence is, "Once upon a time there was a little black boy, and his name was Little Black Sambo." There's really nothing inherently wrong with that, except that his race is irrelevant to the story. Pointing out his race, and having his race be a part of his name, is just tacky. The name "Sambo" had already been in use for some time as a stereotypical "black" name, but it's hard to tell how derogatory the name was until after Bannerman's book became popular. The preface to the edition of the book I read says, "Sambo became, to some, a symbol of racism, and to others, he remained a long-remembered favorite." The story: A little boy's mother makes him a jacket and some pants, and his dad buys him an umbrella and some pretty shoes. Then he goes out for a walk in the jungle and meets a tiger. The tiger says, "I'm gonna eat you," and the kid says, "Don't eat me! I'll give you my jacket." And so the tiger goes, "Okay." And then the boy meets another tiger who threatens him into giving the tiger his pants. Another tiger gets his shoes, although he protests, "What am I gonna do with two shoes? I've got four feet." And the kid says, "Put them on your ears," and the tiger's like, "What a great idea!" A fourth tiger takes the umbrella, after protesting that he can't hold it, and the kid tells him to tie a knot in his tail to hold it. At this point, the boy is sad, because he doesn't have any of his fancy clothes anymore (he doesn't seem to care that he's in his underwear). He hears the tigers coming, so he hides behind a tree. The tigers are fighting over which one of them is the prettiest, and they get so angry at each other that they take off all the fancy clothes and start fighting. They head towards the tree the boy was behind (he runs to hide behind the umbrella) and they get in a circle around it, each grabbing the tail of the tiger in front of him with his teeth. The boy goes, "Don't you want the clothes anymore? Let me know if you want them, otherwise I'm gonna take them." The tigers don't say anything because they don't want to let go of each other's tails, so the kid gets the clothes and wanders off. The tigers get so mad that they run around the tree faster and faster, until they turn into melted butter. Then the kid's father saunters by, sees the butter, and goes, "That looks like some great butter lying on the ground. I'm gonna take that home to my wife." The kids mom goes, "Hey, this is good, we'll all have pancakes for dinner." And the mother eats 27, the father eats 55, and the boy eats 169. The end. That story, in and of itself, even with an African-American protagonist (in a jungle for some reason), has nothing inherently wrong with it. The child is the hero. There's nothing demeaning about his textual portrayal. I'm not sure if I'd describe what he does to the tigers as "outwitting" (they basically fall victim to their own pride without much intervention from him) unless you count him trading his clothes for his life. But like I said, without the illustrations and character names, there's nothing wrong with the story. And in fact, there are many retellings of the story with different illustrations that are perfectly fine books. Obviously, you could make it more racist if you tried, but without the racist elements and it's a perfectly serviceable, if a bit mediocre, story. The edition with Bannerman's original illustrations, like many of the early editions of the book with similarly racist illustrations by other artists, is bad. This is very uncomfortable for me to read as a white person, and I can't imagine what it must be like for a black person, especially a child, to see these caricatures. And it's not like they're great art, either. I could draw better than this. Even the tigers are weird, looking like some kind of cross between a tiger and a Chinese dragon. Very strange-looking. I feel like the story wants to get across some message, but I'm not sure what it is. "Tigers will eat you unless you give them pretty clothes"? "Tigers are surprisingly fashion-conscious"? "Stay out of the way of anybody who's having a fight"? That one's not too bad. Maybe just "Pancakes are delicious." Message: Black people have certain exaggerated features. For more children's book reviews, see my website at http://www.drttmk.com.

  25. 5 out of 5

    La Coccinelle

    I'd heard of this book (and its racism) but I'd never actually read it. I found it on Open Library and thought I'd give it a try. Aside from the racist bits, it's actually a pretty fun story. Little Black Sambo is given a lovely coat, trousers, umbrella, and shoes by his parents. He ends up having to give away each article of clothing to appease some tigers (so they won't eat him). Eventually, though, the tigers get vain and think they're so fine, and they end up fighting and chasing each other a I'd heard of this book (and its racism) but I'd never actually read it. I found it on Open Library and thought I'd give it a try. Aside from the racist bits, it's actually a pretty fun story. Little Black Sambo is given a lovely coat, trousers, umbrella, and shoes by his parents. He ends up having to give away each article of clothing to appease some tigers (so they won't eat him). Eventually, though, the tigers get vain and think they're so fine, and they end up fighting and chasing each other around a tree so fast that they churn themselves into ghee! The fanciful elements of the story are like what you'd expect to see in a good picture book, and the whole thing comes across as a fun fable. As I was reading this book, I thought about how easy it would be to change the racist parts so that it would be less offensive. And, seeing reviews on Goodreads, it seems that the book has been altered over the years, changed to give it an Indian setting and characters (which makes more sense, considering the plot points of tigers and ghee). I can't comment on any of these newer editions, because I read a really old one... but I don't think it would take much in the way of changes to make this book acceptable for a modern audience. Quotable moment: So the Tiger got poor Little Black Sambo's beautiful little Red Coat, and went away saying, "Now I'm the grandest Tiger in the Jungle."

  26. 5 out of 5

    Madelynne Marsden

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This book is an interesting read. I think the character of Little Black Sambo is clever and uses his wits. He slowly gives away the fine clothes he has and gets them all back when the tigers fight each other. It shows one way of communication to get what you want. He told the tigers to say something if they want to keep the fine clothes they took from him but if not then don't say something. The tigers were to caught up fighting each other to say anything and he knew that. I don't necessarily th This book is an interesting read. I think the character of Little Black Sambo is clever and uses his wits. He slowly gives away the fine clothes he has and gets them all back when the tigers fight each other. It shows one way of communication to get what you want. He told the tigers to say something if they want to keep the fine clothes they took from him but if not then don't say something. The tigers were to caught up fighting each other to say anything and he knew that. I don't necessarily think that is something children need to learn from a book. I think there is a better way to communicate especially for children. I think it is an entertaining book nonetheless. I found it very easy to read. I think the names in the book were a little insensitive. In the version I read they were in India but I saw in a review/question that in some versions they weren't in India, I'm not positive if that was a true statement but in this illustrated version, the story is set in India. Honestly, this book is fine but I would not carry this in my classroom. Being clever and having different ways to communicate is fine and not many people would care about this minor part of the story itself. This simply isn't something I would want to have in my class.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    This enduring children's story was first published in England in 1899. The author, Helen Bannerman, lived with her husband, a physician and British officer, in India for thirty years. During that time, they raised a family (two girls and two boys). She enjoyed writing and illustrating stories for her children. Her pictorial depictions of the native Tamil people--specifically Little Black Sambo and his family--are now considered stereotypical and caricaturist, with racial overtones (although prob This enduring children's story was first published in England in 1899. The author, Helen Bannerman, lived with her husband, a physician and British officer, in India for thirty years. During that time, they raised a family (two girls and two boys). She enjoyed writing and illustrating stories for her children. Her pictorial depictions of the native Tamil people--specifically Little Black Sambo and his family--are now considered stereotypical and caricaturist, with racial overtones (although probably unintended). In this 2003 edition Christopher Bing has created more sensitive, artistic illustrations that humanize the characters. This edition also provides interesting background information about (1) the story and how it came to be; (2) the "devolution" of the illustrations in many of the American editions published in the first half of the 20th Century, as some (most?) illustrators created images that apparently were blatantly denigrating, as perceived by black Americans; and (3) Christopher Bing's mission to revitalize and humanize the illustrations of his favorite childhood story, read to him many times by his grandfather. Fittingly, Bing has dedicated this edition to his grandfather. See my review of the original publication.

  28. 5 out of 5

    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 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 that they would have hurt the protagonist if they hadn't ended up being tricked by him. This book with this title was in my school and presented as reading material with no hint that it might be racist. I was a little confused by the text's referring to the protagonist as "Little Black Sambo," as I didn't understand why him being dark-skinned would need to be part of his name. Many years later I saw references to this book being controversial, read the explanation, and thought "ohhh, that explains it." I'm glad there's a non-racist version of the story, because other than the presentation of the character and the terminology used, I think it's still a really fun story.

  29. 5 out of 5

    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 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 several points my nephew was anticipating the ending before it was actually in sight. When he was pretty sure I was on the final page he'd say, "let's read it again," only to be told, "it's not over yet." This exchange happened three or four times, so yes, there is length to consider here. Still, I think that this is probably the longest book that my nephew has sat through without his attention span going south! He and his sister were just transfixed by the beauty of the illustrations, and the wonderful voice of the text.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sonia

    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 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 also found the whole pancakes for dinner aspect funny. Indians do not eat pancakes. Most of them don't even know what a pancake is. I mean the closest thing we have to a pancake is a appetizer/dester that is made up of flour, bananas, and sugar. I enjoyed this book though, my student and I laughed at the hilarity and americanized parts of this story and at the end of the day thats all that matters. :))))

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