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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Format: Hardcover|Change
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on 28 May 2004
If you asked most children today about "The Story of Little Black Sambo," they would probably just give you a puzzled look. Helen Bannerman's story, first published in 1899 and enshrined at one point at Sambo restaurants around the country (specializing in pancakes), is transformed by Fred Marcellino into what might be dismissed by some as simply a political correct version of the original. But to tell you the truth, the part that first offended me about the original story was the implication that there were tigers in Africa. Of course, eventually my eyes were opened to the story's more racist elements. Marcellino's version of the story is clearly set in India, with perfectly innocuous names (Babaji, Papaji and Mamaji) and there is a "soft" quality to his artwork that enhances the telling of the tale. For my money this is an acceptable and worthwhile transformation of Bannerman's story, which is still available, albeit more as a curiosity. Children today can read "The Story of Little Babaji" and have no inkling that this is probably the most controversial children's story ever written. I would even argue there would be some value in telling them about the original version, so they can appreciate the reason for Marcellino's alterations. However, some of them might have concerns about eating all that butter...
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on 29 August 2001
Removing the dreadful racist names and the derogatory illustrations has transformed this classic. What you are left with is a superb story of Little Babaji's cunning and bravery in outwitting the tigers. The illustrations are absolutely enchanting and place the action firmly in India. My three year old adores it and it has become a bed time favourite. I gave a copy to a friend with a six year old who also loves it. This story is definitely worth a revisit.
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on 19 May 2015
30 years ago when I read the "Little Black Sambo" books to my children I wished that someone would produce this herioc story with sumptuous illustrations that really reflected the Indian setting instead of the caricature US plantation slaves it had been saddled with - and here it is. The names have also been changed but the heart of the book is still there, including the mega pancake feast.
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on 8 March 2002
This version is much more acceptable than the older version - 'The Story of Little Black Sambo' because it something positive white and non-white parents can share with their children without the clearly derogatory illustrations, names and other culturally inaccurate bits.
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on 26 September 2013
I was brought up with the old version and knew it by heart. This updated version is exactly the same, but without the unpleasant naming, and the pictures tell the great story for all young children to enjoy.
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on 21 July 2007
The original version of this story - The Story Little Black Sambo - always felt incomplete, not least due to the amazingly inaccurate illustrations. Then it became politically incorrect and rightly so. However, my mother maintains that in 37 years of teaching, she's never found a better story for 4 year olds. The illustrations in this version are joyous and a simple set of authentic name changes has achieved perfection!
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on 23 September 2014
I know some people criticize this for cultural appropriation, but purely as a story it's fantastic. The repetition is great for children who are learning to read. The story is just funny, and our kids have enjoyed this.
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on 26 August 2006
Helen Bannerman the author spent 30 years of her life in India, there was never any suggestion in the original story that Sambo was from Africa. Indeed it states quite clearly in the original text that the setting is India (indicating that ghi or ghee is the term in India for butter). While I can understand that those who grew up with and loved the original may well prefer it, the original is very much a book of it's time (colonial India) and if it is to be offered to a new generation of children it is appropriate to remove the (probably quite unintentional) racist elements. Helen Bannerman wrote a partner book to Little Black Sambo called Little White Squibba. It is an almost identical story but depicts instead a little white girl who is clearly the daughter of smart and attractive well-to-do parents - a real contrast to the cartoon like illustrations of Sambo's family.
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on 8 January 2014
I agree, it's not a PC version; it's just been made properly Indian. And the illustrations are second-to-none. Same story, same language. Just brill! My 3-year-old loves it: the shoes on the ears and the melted butter especially.
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on 23 June 2014
Really nice story, kids loved it. Beautifully illustrated! What's annoying is this same book is called Little Black Sambo and The Boy and The Tigers just make sure you don't buy the same book twice.
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