Little Black Sambo: Helen Bannerman: Books

September 13, 2013 – 09:42
Historic Map Alexandria Virginia Fairfax County 1863 | eBay

.Is there a stronger image in children's literature than the angry tigers that grab each other's tails, run around the palm tree, faster and faster until they melt into a big pool of butter?

The tigers intimidated the little boy (who just happens to be called Sambo) into handing over his beautiful new clothes. He is the smart hero in this classic story.

The real lesson in this tale is shown in the fate of the tigers. Their greed and arrogance leads to an argument over "who is the grandest" when dressed in Sambo's clothes. They get so angry with each other that they forget why they are fighting but just go on getting angrier until they chase each other into oblivion. We see avarice, leading to pride, aggression, and ultimately to destruction. This is a profound lesson for all of us.

The big jar of melted butter (ex-tiger) that Sambo's dad collected from under the palm tree let Mom cook up a big pile of pancakes to feed all the family.

The only criticism that can be levelled of this book is "tigerism".

Make sure you get a genuine re-issue of Miss Bannerman's 1921 original classic not one of the bowdlerized (and supposedly sanitized) "updates". The 21 illustrations in the original have a delightfully nave quality and form an essential part of this book. Look out for other books in the " Wee Books for Wee Folk" series. They will take you back to the more innocent and less complex world known to our grandparents. There was wisdom to be had back then too.


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