The Story of Little Black Mingo and The Story of Little Black Sambo, by Helen Bannerman, tell of two children who overcome the odds. The Story of Little Black Mingo tells of a little orphaned black girl who is unfortunate enough to lived with a horrid abusive old woman named Black Noggy, who made her do impossible chores. In performing one of the chores, she was kidnapped by a mugger (crocodile), which brought her to a faraway island where her little eggs were. There Little Black Mingo met the Mongoose who drove the mugger mad in rage by eating its eggs. The Mugger tried a lot of ways to keep the mongoose away but he failed. It even chased them back to Little Black Mingo's home, but end up blown into bits with Black Noggy. The Story of Little Black Sambo was also written 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".
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Helen Bannerman (1862–1946) was the Scottish author of a number of children's books, the most notable being Little Black Sambo. She was born in Edinburgh and, because women were not admitted as students into British Universities, she sat external examinations set by the University of St. Andrews and attained the qualification of LLA. She lived for 32 years in Madras and a good proportion of her life in India, where her husband William Bannerman was an officer in the Indian Medical Service. The heroes of many of her books are recognizably south Indian or Tamil children from the illustrations and use of words. For instance, Little Black Sambo has Ghee, Tigers, and Bazaar, Little Black Mingo has Jungle, Mugger, Dhobi, and Mongoose, Little Black Quasha has Bazaar, and Tigers, and Little Black Quibba has Mangoes and Elephants. The books have nothing to do with Africa or African people, and the plots celebrate the intelligence and ingenuity of the children. However, the name Sambo has come to be seen as a slur on people of colour and the books have often been blacklisted or censored. This prompted a new version co-authored by Fred Marcellino called The Story of Little Babaji, with the names of the main characters changed. Earlier, in 1976, Platt & Munk Publishers had issued a version of Little Black Sambo, with the parent's names identifiably Indian, and the picturesque illustrations altered to indicate decidedly Indian clothing. She is the mother of famous physicist Tom Kibble who discovered the Higgs–Kibble mechanism and Higgs boson.
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