Little Black Sambo

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Genres: Banned Books
Type: Digital

Little Black Sambo is a children's book written and illustrated by Scottish author Helen Bannerman and published by Grant Richards in October 1899. As one in a series of small-format books called The Dumpy Books for Children, the story was popular for more than half a century.

The story follows a young Indian boy, named Sambo, who is chased by a group of tigers. Sambo outsmarts the tigers by giving them pancakes, which they eat until they explode. Sambo then returns home to his mother, who is very proud of him.

The book has been praised for its lively illustrations and its simple, repetitive story. However, it has also been criticized for its racist stereotypes. The characters in the book are all depicted with exaggerated features, and Sambo's mother is shown as being very subservient to her husband.

Despite the criticism, Little Black Sambo remains a popular children's book in many parts of the world. It has been translated into over 50 languages and has sold over 50 million copies worldwide.


The book explores a number of themes, including:

  • Courage: Sambo is a courageous boy who outsmarts the tigers. He shows that even small children can be brave.
  • Cleverness: Sambo is also a clever boy. He uses his wit to defeat the tigers. This shows that cleverness can be more powerful than strength.
  • Friendship: Sambo's friends help him to escape from the tigers. This shows the importance of friendship and teamwork.


Little Black Sambo is a significant children's book for a number of reasons. First, it is one of the first children's books to feature a non-white protagonist. Second, it is a popular and well-loved story that has been enjoyed by generations of children. Third, it is a book that has been the subject of much debate and controversy.

Despite the criticism, Little Black Sambo remains an important part of children's literature. It is a book that can teach children about courage, cleverness, and friendship. It is also a book that can help children to understand the importance of diversity and cultural difference.


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