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



Little Black Sambo Book Top Tales Whitman HB 1961 Black Americana Rutherford

Little Black Sambo Book Top Tales Whitman HB 1961 Black Americana Rutherford

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Little Golden Book #57 LITTLE BLACK SAMBO 1948 A Edition Bannerman, Tenggren

Little Golden Book #57 LITTLE BLACK SAMBO 1948 A Edition Bannerman, Tenggren

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

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

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The Little Black Sambo Story Book 1976 Hardcover Helen Bannerman Buccaneer

The Little Black Sambo Story Book 1976 Hardcover Helen Bannerman Buccaneer

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Rare LITTLE BLACK SAMBO Book Illustrated by Mary L. Russell - No.656

Rare LITTLE BLACK SAMBO Book Illustrated by Mary L. Russell - No.656

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1927 Nursery Tales LITTLE BLACK SAMBO Platt & Munk Watty Piper EULALIE

1927 Nursery Tales LITTLE BLACK SAMBO Platt & Munk Watty Piper EULALIE

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LITTLE BLACK SAMBO ~ Little Golden Book #57 Bannerman, Tenggren, 42 page "E" ed.

LITTLE BLACK SAMBO ~ Little Golden Book #57 Bannerman, Tenggren, 42 page "E" ed.

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Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman, illustrated by Florence White Williams

Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman, illustrated by Florence White Williams

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Little Black Sambo, Tell a Tales, Whitman Publishing 1950, Artwork by Suzanne

Little Black Sambo, Tell a Tales, Whitman Publishing 1950, Artwork by Suzanne

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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 Golden Book LITTLE BLACK SAMBO, c. 1948

Vintage Little Golden Book LITTLE BLACK SAMBO, c. 1948

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LITTLE BLACK SAMBO CHILDREN'S BOOK BY HELEN BANNERMAN   1955 EDITION 88694-4 DBW

LITTLE BLACK SAMBO CHILDREN'S BOOK BY HELEN BANNERMAN 1955 EDITION 88694-4 DBW

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PERFECT MINT Little black Sambo book 1948 N Edition A little golden book

PERFECT MINT Little black Sambo book 1948 N Edition A little golden book

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Better Homes Gardens Story Book Peter Pan Little black Sambo little red hen 1950

Better Homes Gardens Story Book Peter Pan Little black Sambo little red hen 1950

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THE STORY OF LITTLE BLACK SAMBO by Helen Bannerman ~ Rare  1900's NICE

THE STORY OF LITTLE BLACK SAMBO by Helen Bannerman ~ Rare 1900's NICE

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lot 2 vintage old Little Black Sambo story book books 1935 Platt

lot 2 vintage old Little Black Sambo story book books 1935 Platt

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LITTLE BLACK SAMBO AND THE BABY ELEPHANT by Frank Ver Beck, Illustrated, 1925

LITTLE BLACK SAMBO AND THE BABY ELEPHANT by Frank Ver Beck, Illustrated, 1925

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LITTLE BLACK SAMBO CHILDREN'S BOOK BY HELEN BANNERMAN 1961 EDITION 88694-4.1 DBW

LITTLE BLACK SAMBO CHILDREN'S BOOK BY HELEN BANNERMAN 1961 EDITION 88694-4.1 DBW

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Stokes Wonder Book of Fairy Tales 1917 Little Black Sambo Illustrated

Stokes Wonder Book of Fairy Tales 1917 Little Black Sambo Illustrated

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