The Story of Little Babaji

August 8, 2018
Subheader: 

Lackluster story, beautiful illustrations.

Review: 

It's definitely an improvement on the original "Little Black Sambo" by Helen Bannerman. They redrew it and renamed the characters to make it more obvious that the story takes place in India, so the little boy's name is now Little Babaji. Which changes the first sentence from "Once upon a time there was a little black boy and his name was Little Black Sambo" to "Once upon a time there was a little boy and his name was Little Babaji." Much, much better.

It's the same exact story as Little Black Sambo, but without the racism, and an explicit setting of India. The text is almost identical except for the names being changed and the word "black" being removed from the first sentence. (I didn't go through word by word and compare them, but nothing stood out.)

Little Babaji's mother makes him a red jacket and blue pants. His father buys him a green umbrella and purple shoes with crimson soles and crimson linings. He goes for a walk in the jungle. A tiger approaches him and says, "I'm gonna eat you." He says, "No, take my red jacket." The tiger's like, "'Kay." The second tiger, he gives his pants to. The third tiger, he gives his shoes to. The tiger's like, "What am I gonna do with two shoes? I've got four feet." He says, "Put him on your ears." The tiger goes, "That's a very good idea, there." The fourth tiger he gives the umbrella to. He ties a knot in the tiger's tail so he can hold the umbrella since he needs all four paws to walk. Little Babaji is now sad. The tigers fight over who's the prettiest and abandon all the clothes, grabbing each other's tails in their mouths in a circle around a tree. Little Babaji asks them to speak up if they want the clothes, but they don't want to let go of each other's tails, and they're so angry that they run faster until they turn into melted butter. Little Babaji's father, Papaji, comes by on the way home and puts the melted butter in a pot. Mamaji makes pancakes and the little boy eats a massive amount of them.

There's nothing great about the story. I have to say the illustrations are top-notch in this book (although the people are strangely shiny) but the amount of expression that the illustrator puts on the faces of the characters, especially the tigers, is amazing. But as far as the text goes, the only reason anybody would read this book is because it's an improvement over the original.

Message: 

Fighting tigers makes you hungry.

Illustrator
Publication Year
  • 1996
Age Range
Age Range: 
4-8
Number of Pages
Number of Pages: 
67
Number of Words on Typical Page
Number of Words: 
20

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