Written by Julius Lester
Illustrated by Jerry Pinkney
A retelling of one of the most controversial books in children’s literature (Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman), Sam and the Tigers is about a boy living in a place where all the people were named Sam and they lived and worked alongside the animals “like they didn’t know they weren’t supposed to.”
In the story, the boy convinces his parents to buy him a new, fancy and very colorful outfit. While heading to school in his new attire, he avoids being eaten by tigers by giving them his fancy, new garments. He escapes danger as the tigers argue over who is the finest. As the tigers rolled and wrestled each other, Sam was able to recover his garments.
Chasing one another’s’ tails in anger, the tigers become a blur until they melt into a pool of golden, gleaming butter. Sam brings the butter home to his mother who uses it to make pancakes that happen to be striped orange and black, just like the tigers. In a fanciful turn of events, the tigers did not eat Sam…Sam ate the tigers!
Knowing that this is a “new telling of Little Black Sambo,” I appreciate the author’s commentary at the end of the book. Read more >>
Originally posted on April 27, 2021.