TA.TV: Banned Cartoons – “Little Black Sambo” (1932)

The Story of Little Black Sambo is a children’s book written and illustrated by Helen Bannerman, and first published by Grant Richards in October 1899 as one in a series of small-format books called The Dumpy Books for Children. Sambo is a South Indian boy who encounters four hungry tigers, and surrenders his colourful new clothes, shoes, and umbrella so they will not eat him. The tigers chase each other around a tree until they are reduced to a pool of melted butter; Sambo then recovers his clothes and his mother makes pancakes of the butter. The story was a children’s favourite for half a century until the word sambo was deemed a racial slur in some countries, and the illustrations considered reminiscent of “darky iconography”. Both text and illustrations have undergone considerable revision since.

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