Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Story of Little Black Sambo

The Story of Little Black Sambo
Most Challenged Book List

Bannerman, H. (n.d.). The story of little black sambo. Philadelphia, PA: J. B. Lippincott Company.

This was one of my favorite books as a child.  I still have my original little book with the orange hardcover and the hand-drawn looking illustrations inside.  I loved it.  I am sorry that it offends people.  I never took it in an offensive way as a child.  I loved the cool clothes that Little Black Sambo gave to the tigers...and the tiger's ingenious ways of wearing them.  I loved that Little Black Sambo outsmarted the tigers, just like The Three Billy Goats Gruff and ended up getting his fine clothes back too.  As a child, I was fascinated by the idea of the tigers running so fast that they turned to butter.  Could this really happen?  Then, when Little Black Sambo returns home, they got to eat tiger-looking pancakes.  It doesn't get better than that to a young child.  I knew that it was a controversial book when I was young.  My Aunt told me that it would be banned (oooh) and to take good care of my copy.  I didn't even know what that meant, but I took good care of my copy.  To this day, I have it in my secretary behind glass doors.  The inside binding is in sad shape.  It is usually challenged as being racist.  In the preface of the book, it tells us that Helen Bannerman was living in India with her two girls.  She told them stories and drew and colored the pictures that went along with them too.  It states that in India, children are dark and tigers abound.  Makes sense to me that The Story of Little Black Sambo is not meant to be offensive at all.  It reminds me of a multi-cultural fractured fairy tale.  Food for thought!

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