Puzzle - Little Black Sambo, circa 1950s-1960s Object Reg. No: HT 7547

Masonite puzzle of the nursery story Little Black Sambo, made circa 1950s to 1960s. It was used at Warrawong Day Care Kindergarten from the 1950s onwards.

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. Sambo is an Tamil 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 with the butter. The story was a best seller until the 1930s and 1940s when the word sambo was deemed a racial slur, and the illustrations considered reminiscent of "darky iconography".

In 1942 a re-illustrated version was released in the USA, and during the mid 20th century several American editions changed the title to the racially neutral Brave Little Sambo. The book has continued to be reworked and released in 1996, illustrator Fred Marcellino produced a re-illustrated version, 'The Story of Little Babaji', which changes the characters' names but otherwise leaves the text unmodified. In 2003 a version using the original title and text with more racially sensitive illustrations was released and was chosen for the Kirkus 2003 Editor's Choice list.
Rectangular puzzle which is made out of masonite. It has twenty-six pieces which create an image of the child 'Little Black Sambo', a tiger and a palm tree. The scenery is rendered with blue sky, green and yellow terrain, and green grass at their feet. Little Black Sambo's clothes (two shoes, blue shorts, and a red jacket) are strewn across the image.
Acquisition Information:
Donation from Association of Graduates in Early Childhood Studies (The), 2002
Discipline: History
Dimensions: 0.8 cm (Height), 27.8 cm (Width), 45.6 cm (Length)

More information

Tagged with: puzzles, toys, children s play, racial identity, ethnic groups, cultural stereotypes
Themes this item is part of: Childhood & Youth Collection, Public Life & Institutions Collection, Identity: Yours, Mine, Ours, Immigration Museum Exhibition, 2011-2021, Objects & Cultural Stereotypes in Museum Victoria Collections
Primary Classification: GAMES & TOYS
Secondary Classification: Amusements
Tertiary Classification: puzzles
Inscriptions: Handwritten on side: NURSERY STORIES - LITTLE BLACK SAMBO
User: Warrawong Day Care Kindergarten, New South Wales, Australia, post 1950s
Date Made: circa 1950s-1960s

Add your comment

  • Museum Victoria does not provide valuations, for more information please visit the valuation infosheet
  • Please note that Museum Victoria staff will not normally respond to comments posted on our website.
Yes No