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 ~ TELL-A-TALE BOOKS WHITMAN 1953

LITTLE BLACK SAMBO ~ TELL-A-TALE BOOKS WHITMAN 1953

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LITTLE BLACK SAMBO, (c) 1927, color illus, Rand McNally Cover Only

LITTLE BLACK SAMBO, (c) 1927, color illus, Rand McNally Cover Only

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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 LOT OF 10 VINTAGE PLATT & MUNK CO. CHILDREN'S BOOKS, 1932 &+

LITTLE BLACK SAMBO LOT OF 10 VINTAGE PLATT & MUNK CO. CHILDREN'S BOOKS, 1932 &+

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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 - A Little Golden Book - E Printing

Little Black Sambo - A Little Golden Book - E Printing

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Vintage Little Black Sambo Book Helen Bannerman Orange 1955 edition

Vintage Little Black Sambo Book Helen Bannerman Orange 1955 edition

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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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The Story of Little Black Sambo Helen Bannerman   illustrated   Frederick Stokes

The Story of Little Black Sambo Helen Bannerman illustrated Frederick Stokes

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The Little Black Sambo Story Book, Helen Bannerman, 1935, Condition: Fair

The Little Black Sambo Story Book, Helen Bannerman, 1935, Condition: Fair

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LITTLE BLACK SAMBO ~ Little Golden Book #57, Bannerman, Tenggren, no writing

LITTLE BLACK SAMBO ~ Little Golden Book #57, Bannerman, Tenggren, no writing

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Little Black Sambo illus by  Bonnie Bill Rutherford Whitman Top Tales

Little Black Sambo illus by Bonnie Bill Rutherford Whitman Top Tales

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The Story of Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman 1996 Centennial Edition

The Story of Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman 1996 Centennial Edition

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Little Black Sambo Childrens Book- 1939 -Linenette - Jack and the Bean Stalk

Little Black Sambo Childrens Book- 1939 -Linenette - Jack and the Bean Stalk

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VINTAGE Little Black Sambo~Tell-a-Tale Book Whitman 1959 illus Violet LaMont 39¢

VINTAGE Little Black Sambo~Tell-a-Tale Book Whitman 1959 illus Violet LaMont 39¢

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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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Vintage 1931 Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman, Illustrated by Fern Peat

Vintage 1931 Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman, Illustrated by Fern Peat

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1923 Antique Children's Book Old Time Fairy Stories including Little Black Sambo

1923 Antique Children's Book Old Time Fairy Stories including Little Black Sambo

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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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1942 Little Black Sambo Saalfeld Publisher Children's Book

1942 Little Black Sambo Saalfeld Publisher Children's Book

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