Story of Little Black Sambo

( 16 )

Overview

The jolly and exciting tale of the little boy who lost his red coat and his blue trousers and his purple shoes but who was saved from the tigers to eat 169 pancakes for his supper, has been universally loved by generations of children. First written in 1899, the story has become a childhood classic and the authorized American edition with the original drawings by the author has sold hundreds of thousands of copies.

Little Black Sambo is a book that speaks the common language of...

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The Story of Little Black Sambo

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Overview

The jolly and exciting tale of the little boy who lost his red coat and his blue trousers and his purple shoes but who was saved from the tigers to eat 169 pancakes for his supper, has been universally loved by generations of children. First written in 1899, the story has become a childhood classic and the authorized American edition with the original drawings by the author has sold hundreds of thousands of copies.

Little Black Sambo is a book that speaks the common language of all nations, and has added more to the joy of little children than perhaps any other story. They love to hear it again and again; to read it to themselves; to act it out in their play.

A little boy in India loses his fine new clothes to the tigers, but while they dispute who is the grandest tiger in the jungle he takes his fine clothes back again.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this edition of Bannerman's story, first published in 1899, a long afterword from the publisher spells out its checkered past. But while the text remains nearly precisely the way Bannerman told it, Bing's (Casey at the Bat) light-infused illustrations focus on the heroic boy's courage and ingenuity as he outwits a series of tigers in the forests of India. One of the giant striped foes lurks in the grass on the title page, and the opening spread depicts Black Mumbo and Black Jumbo, the boy's parents, returning from the marketplace among buildings of onion-shaped domes and the ruins of exotic columns. They present him with the "beautiful little Red Coat,... Blue Trousers,... Green Umbrella... and lovely little Pair of Purple Shoes with Crimson Soles and Crimson Linings"; he will use these to bargain with the threatening tigers, before reclaiming them while the tigers fight to prove who looks grandest in his vestments. Unlike the vain tigers of Marcellino's The Story of Little Babaji or the somewhat simple-minded tigers, as characterized by Jerry Pinkney in Julius Lester's Sam and the Tigers, Bing's villains are ferocious, often towering above Little Black Sambo or tugging at the boy's pants with bared teeth. Still, Little Black Sambo maintains his composure and never seems frightened. The mood here may be more somber than Marcellino's or Lester's versions, but the hero looks triumphant as he walks away in his new outfit, none the worse for his trade. Ages 5-up. (Dec.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
The late 19th century tale of the little black boy who meets a tiger while taking a walk in his beautiful new clothes became a popular classic despite illustrations that unfortunately reflected particularly insulting racist caricatures. The satisfying story of Sambo's final triumph, lost in controversy over the years, has been rescued for young readers only recently by Fred Marcellino's re-imaging in India as The Story of Little Babaji and Jerry Pinkney's revision, Sam and the Tigers. Bing re-invents here one of his childhood favorites. As in his earlier Casey at the Bat and The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, he incorporates faux documents and historic photographs on the non-text pages to create a context for more profound appreciation. The book itself simulates an aging volume with yellowing pages, broken binding, and a jacket/cover slashed by tiger claws. The large format allows him to create framed double-page scenes which depict ancient Indian ruins and a lush grassy landscape; the naturalistic manner emphasizes the sunny brightness and the powerful big cats. This is a theatrical creation that encourages us to enter the fantasy of our appealing young hero to share his emotions. Extensive notes fill in background. 2003, Handprint, Ages 4 to 9.
— Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 4-Despite the controversy surrounding Bannerman's racially insensitive choice of names and style of illustration for her 1899 book, Little Black Sambo perseveres in print and in the memories of adults who encountered the tale as children. Whereas Julius Lester (Sam and the Tigers [Dial, 1996]) casts Sam as a hero of the American South, and Fred Marcellino places The Story of Little Babaji (HarperCollins, 1996) in India, Bing affirms Bannerman's text and the incongruities inherent in fantasy. His African child lives in India where those infamous tigers want to eat him up-until each receives a portion of his new outfit. This is vintage Bing. The book has a weathered look, including the illusion of ripped seams and folded, yellowed pages. The danger, however, is palpable from the outset: the linen and gilt cover bears the deep, jagged imprint of a claw. Each double-page painting is framed in black and infused with golden light. The glow emanates from the sun, the tigers, the domes-foreshadowing the brilliance of that "lovely melted butter." Pen and ink are applied meticulously to skin, fur, and landscape, creating a rich overall texture and depth; the areas of unadulterated color provide the magical aura. Endpapers decorated with newspaper clippings, postcards, maps, shadow puppets, and other realia provide an in-depth history of the story and the particulars of this version. Some adults will no doubt continue to debate the use of Sambo. Children will be dazzled and delighted by the turn of events depicted here.-Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The most controversial children's picture book in history is richly resurrected with truly sumptuous illustrations in a gorgeous oversized format. Bing retains Bannerman's original text and names, but replaces the stereotypical characteristics with a handsome, tawny-skinned Sambo, and dresses Black Mumbo in a sari and Black Jumbo in a turban. In a note on the front endpapers, Bing relates how he worked for 20 years to illustrate his favorite childhood story. Amid the beautiful, etched-line textures, sun-kissed colors, and lush greenery, the magnificent tigers not only steal Sambo's clothes but also steal the visual show. Fascinating focal points create dramatic perspectives (a tiger viewed between Sambo's knees) and cinematic close-ups. The bordered spreads appear as if on parchment and end-page collages intriguingly display old postcards, maps, and items of the times. A lengthy note by the publisher on the story's history and publication provides important context. Exceptional in every detail: a classic story respectfully revitalized to a new grandeur-one it deserves. Simply superb. (Picture book. 3-7)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780397300068
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/1/2003
  • Pages: 64
  • Sales rank: 103,142
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 4.00 (w) x 5.37 (h) x 0.42 (d)

Meet the Author

Helen Bannerman (1862-1946) was born in Scotland. The daughter of a chaplain who was posted to foreign countries, she lived for over thirty years in India. She married a doctor in the Indian Medical Service, and they had two daughters. The Story Of Little

Christopher Bing Christopher Bing, whose first book, "Casey at the Bat," was named a 2001 Caldecott Honor Book, lives with his wife and three children in Lexington, Massachusetts, in a house directly on the Freedom Trail, the route on which Paul Revere rode on that fateful night of April 18th, two hundred twenty-six years ago.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 16 )
Rating Distribution

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(11)

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Sort by: Showing all of 14 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 17, 2005

    Wonderful book for all.

    Some people look for anything negative or a reason to holler about racism. Even Huck Finn, a wonderful nonracist story, has received a bum rap. Books were written in the time they are set,and LITTLE BLACK SAMBO is a wonderful story that I've enjoyed since I was a child. I am African American, and I find nothing offensive about this story. READ THIS STORY, ALL PEOPLES, AND ENJOY!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2004

    Proceed with caution

    While The Story of Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman has proven to be a much loved classic by many readers, you should exercise caution when preparing to read it to young children. The storyline is fairly basic ¿ Little Black Sambo is pursued by tigers in the jungle, and in order to appease them, he gives each of them an article of clothing. Then, the tigers end up fighting with each other, and Little Black Sambo goes home and eats pancakes. The plot seems harmless, but it is the negative undertones of the book that create its controversy. The term `sambo¿ carries the heavy weight of controversy itself; during slavery, it was an extremely negative and derogatory term used for African-American slaves, labeling them as shiftless, lazy, listless, and, quite frankly, dumb. This word has carried its controversy ever since the days of slavery, and it is still considered a very offensive term to use toward African-Americans. Because of this, allowing children to read a book where the main character¿s name is Sambo introduces them to this negative term that should not even be in their vocabulary. Doing so runs the risk of having children deem all African-Americans as `sambo¿ without understanding the term, thus creating racial controversy. In addition, the illustrations in the book do not portray African-Americans in a good light; rather, they portray quite barbaric and primitive characters that perpetuate many racial stereotypes. Overall, I suggest holding off on having children read this book until they are old enough to understand concepts such as slavery, racism, and stereotypes.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 10, 2012

    Wonderful Story

    I really enjoyed reading the full history of this wonderful story of a young boy outwitting the tiger.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2010

    My grandmother used to read me this book, then I read it to my children. Mainly because of the wonderful memories of my grandmother reading it to me. My 30 year old son recently asked me about the book. Unfortunatley, I was unable to find it.

    I found the book on Barnes and Nobles web-site, called the store and ordered it. It came in incredibly fast and in perfect condition. My son was thrilled to have the book! It brought back many memories of me reading it to him as a child. I would highly recommend Barnes and Noble for extremely helpful service.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2007

    Beautiful

    I never get tired of reading this book and staring at the detailed and beautifully rendered artwork of Mr. Bing. I am sorry it is not carried at this time. I wanted to order several copies as birthday gifts.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2005

    My Favorite

    This was my favorite book growing up. I must have made my parents read it to me hundreds of times. I still have my old copy of the book and I read it to my three year old son. He loves it too.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2005

    What a Wonderful Book

    This is a wonderful book, full of courage and bravery. A perfect read for children. I had forgotten all about this one. My older siblings and I would read this to our baby sister at bedtime. I can almost recite the story verbatim. Full of excitement and adventure.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 7, 2004

    Book was not written as a racist tome

    Those who criticize the book would do well to learn a little history. Bannerman wrote the book for her own little children, never expecting it to be published. She described an imaginary country and imaginary child. Her original illustrations have never been properly reproduced causing them to appear ugly and miscolored. She was in India when the copyright for the book was sold in England without her permission. She was paid the sum of 5 pounds. The book is not and was never intended to be racist. It's simply a delightful story of a child who uses his wits to outwit the tigers and gets his mother to make him 169 pancakes. (Because he was hungry.)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2004

    I Love This Book

    Little Black Sambo is a small, cute little book and I first read it when I was really young. I checked it out at the library every time that I went there. Then the library told me that their copy was lost or out of print. So I tried to find it at other libraries but I had no luck. It is my favorite book in the whole world.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2004

    Impressed with book

    I remember my grandmother reading me this book as a child. Reading it now brings back many memories and smiles. Wonderful story. This particular edition has the most beautiful illustrations. You have the feeling that you are reading a very very old book b/c the pages are drawn to be cornered and worn away. There is even the cloth section of the book spine showing (illustration) that makes you think the book is so old that it is falling apart. Very cool.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2004

    Give This a Chance

    I know this title has very bad connotations, but this version of the tale is truly beautiful. The child in this story is bright and resourceful, with a loving family. He is not a stereotype. The illustrations are gorgeous. Don't be put off by the racist history of this book. It's fine--it's better than fine. Give it a chance.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2004

    Little Black Sambo

    Was the very first book I borrowed from a public library in 1980.It was a story I have never forgotten and it will always be my favorite.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 15, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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