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 ~ Little Golden Book #57 Bannerman, Tenggren, "O" ed. NICE!

LITTLE BLACK SAMBO ~ Little Golden Book #57 Bannerman, Tenggren, "O" ed. NICE!

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Little Black Sambo

Little Black Sambo

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Little Black Sambo Paperback by Helen Bannerman

Little Black Sambo Paperback by Helen Bannerman

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

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

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The Story of Little Black Sambo: Color Facsimile of First American Illustrate...

The Story of Little Black Sambo: Color Facsimile of First American Illustrate...

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Vintage LITTLE BLACK SAMBO 1949 Moving parts book Duenewald Printing

Vintage LITTLE BLACK SAMBO 1949 Moving parts book Duenewald Printing

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1950 LITTLE BLACK SAMBO WHITMAN TELL A TALE BOOK-ILLUSTRATED BY SUZANNE VINTAGE!

1950 LITTLE BLACK SAMBO WHITMAN TELL A TALE BOOK-ILLUSTRATED BY SUZANNE VINTAGE!

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1950 LITTLE BLACK SAMBO WHITMAN BOOK ILLUSTRATED BY SUZANNE VINTAGE

1950 LITTLE BLACK SAMBO WHITMAN BOOK ILLUSTRATED BY SUZANNE VINTAGE

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1950 LITTLE BLACK SAMBO BOOK-ILLUSTRATED BY SUZANNE VINTAGE!

1950 LITTLE BLACK SAMBO BOOK-ILLUSTRATED BY SUZANNE VINTAGE!

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Whitman ? 1953 ? LITTLE BLACK SAMBO ? Tell-A-Tale 2661

Whitman ? 1953 ? LITTLE BLACK SAMBO ? Tell-A-Tale 2661

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1935 Little Black Sambo and Baby Elephant Frank Ver Beck Color Illustrations

1935 Little Black Sambo and Baby Elephant Frank Ver Beck Color Illustrations

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1950 LITTLE BLACK SAMBO WHITMAN TELL A TALE BOOK-ILLUSTRATED BY SUZANNE VINTAGE!

1950 LITTLE BLACK SAMBO WHITMAN TELL A TALE BOOK-ILLUSTRATED BY SUZANNE VINTAGE!

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Little Black Sambo 1972

Little Black Sambo 1972

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ALL ABOUT LITTLE BLACK SAMBO BOOK 1917 BANNERMAN JOHNNY GRUELLE COLOR ILLUS w DJ

ALL ABOUT LITTLE BLACK SAMBO BOOK 1917 BANNERMAN JOHNNY GRUELLE COLOR ILLUS w DJ

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Lot of 11 Books From The 1960's(Includes Little Black Sambo)

Lot of 11 Books From The 1960's(Includes Little Black Sambo)

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LITTLE BLACK SAMBO Magic Drawing Book -- PLATT & MUNK, 1928 -- Connect the Dots

LITTLE BLACK SAMBO Magic Drawing Book -- PLATT & MUNK, 1928 -- Connect the Dots

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Vintage Little Black Sambo 1953 Tell A Tale Books

Vintage Little Black Sambo 1953 Tell A Tale Books

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1959 LITTLE BLACK SAMBO    WHITMAN TELL-A-TALE BOOKS

1959 LITTLE BLACK SAMBO WHITMAN TELL-A-TALE BOOKS

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Book Trails For Baby Feet 1928 Volume 1 First Edition LITTLE BLACK SAMBO 1st Ed

Book Trails For Baby Feet 1928 Volume 1 First Edition LITTLE BLACK SAMBO 1st Ed

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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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