Little Black Sambo Little Golden Book


The original version of Little Black Sambo from 1899 is available online through Project Gutenberg.
Little Black Sambo

The Story of Little Black Sambo, a children's book by Helen Bannerman, a Scot living in India, was first published in London in 1899. 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. The story was a children's favorite for half a century, but then became controversial in certain countries due to the use of the word sambo. The children's story takes place in a fairy tale India with Caribbean elements, with the tigers racing around the tree eventually being turned into ghee -- translated as "butter" -- and the humans eating inhuman quantities of pancakes.
Cover page from original Little Black Sambo book

The book has a controversial history. The setting of Bannerman's story was clearly in India—as can be seen by the presence of tigers and the reference to ghee—and thus it seems likely that Sambo was an Indian boy. But the illustrations in the original European version portray Sambo using darky iconography, with black skin, wildly curly hair, and bright red lips. The word "sambo" has a long history as a racial slur against blacks.

The story is more credible set in India than Africa: notably, tigers were common in India (and endangered now) but had been extinct in Africa for millennia.

In contrast with the lack of racism in the original story, many pirated versions were knocked off at a cheaper price, gaining Little Black Sambo greater availability in its day. These imitations often were more degrading, as pointed out in an on-line essay by David Pilgrim.


The book is no longer in print by Little Golden Books, and has become somewhat of a collectors item.  It was originally published in 1948.
This is the cover picture of the Little Golden Book "Little Black Sambo".
Little Black Sambo



1948 Little Golden Book "Little Black Sambo" by Helen Bannerman #57

1948 Little Golden Book "Little Black Sambo" by Helen Bannerman #57

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LITTLE BLACK SAMBO AND THE BABY ELEPHANT, Illustrated, Vintage book 1925

LITTLE BLACK SAMBO AND THE BABY ELEPHANT, Illustrated, Vintage book 1925

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1953 Little Black Sambo Whitman Tell A Tale Book

1953 Little Black Sambo Whitman Tell A Tale Book

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Little Black Sambo Helen Bannerman Hardcover 1972 Illustrated by Eulalie

Little Black Sambo Helen Bannerman Hardcover 1972 Illustrated by Eulalie

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1943 Little Black Sambo Animated Book, Bannerman Black Memorabilia

1943 Little Black Sambo Animated Book, Bannerman Black Memorabilia

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vintage LITTLE BLACK SAMBO by Bannerman Eulalie Hardcover Dust Jacket PLATT

vintage LITTLE BLACK SAMBO by Bannerman Eulalie Hardcover Dust Jacket PLATT

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THE STORY OF LITTLE BLACK SAMBO by Helen Bannerman ? HC DJ ? Nice Condition

THE STORY OF LITTLE BLACK SAMBO by Helen Bannerman ? HC DJ ? Nice Condition

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A New Story Of Little Black Sambo (NO TEXT) (NO AUTHOR)

A New Story Of Little Black Sambo (NO TEXT) (NO AUTHOR)

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Little Black Sambo Vintage RCA Victor Story Book Y 333 Two 78rpm 10" Lp Records

Little Black Sambo Vintage RCA Victor Story Book Y 333 Two 78rpm 10" Lp Records

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Eight Nursery Tales LITTLE BLACK SAMBO 1938 Platt & Munk HC Book

Eight Nursery Tales LITTLE BLACK SAMBO 1938 Platt & Munk HC Book

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The Gateway To Storyland Book Watty Piper Illustrated 1952 Little Black Sambo

The Gateway To Storyland Book Watty Piper Illustrated 1952 Little Black Sambo

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The Gateway to Storyland 1925 Little Black Sambo, Peter Rabbit 3 Pigs, 3 Kittens

The Gateway to Storyland 1925 Little Black Sambo, Peter Rabbit 3 Pigs, 3 Kittens

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1946 Book Trails for Baby Feet Volume 2 LITTLE BLACK SAMBO

1946 Book Trails for Baby Feet Volume 2 LITTLE BLACK SAMBO

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1900's Little Black Sambo Mary Lafetra Russell ?Linenette? rare

1900's Little Black Sambo Mary Lafetra Russell ?Linenette? rare

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The story of "Little Black  Sambo" book

The story of "Little Black Sambo" book

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Better Homes and Gardens Story Book 1950 Betty O'Connor Little Black Sambo

Better Homes and Gardens Story Book 1950 Betty O'Connor Little Black Sambo

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LITTLE BLACK SAMBO by Helen Bannerman ? HC DJ ? Nice Condition

LITTLE BLACK SAMBO by Helen Bannerman ? HC DJ ? Nice Condition

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LITTLE BLACK SAMBO ~ Little Golden Book 42 Page 'E' Edition Bannerman Tenggren

LITTLE BLACK SAMBO ~ Little Golden Book 42 Page 'E' Edition Bannerman Tenggren

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The Gunniwolf Other Merry Tales Harper Kate Seredy 1936 1st Little Black Sambo

The Gunniwolf Other Merry Tales Harper Kate Seredy 1936 1st Little Black Sambo

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1942 Little Black Sambo Saalfeld Publisher Children's Book

1942 Little Black Sambo Saalfeld Publisher Children's Book

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