Watch my life unravel...



Top Canadian Blogs - Top Blogs

Local Directory for Ottawa, ON


A bedtime story

Tales & Pictures and Fairy Fun: vintage racismI was just looking through the politically atrocious but beautifully illustrated children’s book I bought at the Merrickville Antique Show last weekend. Such a pretty book.

But you know what they say: you can’t judge a book by its cover.

Here’s a nice bedtime story to read to your children:


Sambo, Bambo and Topsy were three little niggers. Sambo and Bambo were boys, and Topsy was a girl.

They were all so much alike, with their little black faces and funny little curly heads, that old Mammy Chloe used to get them mixed up sometimes, and whip Bambo when it was Sambo who had been naughty, or give Topsy a sugar-plum when it was Bambo who deserved it. So at last she always dressed Sambo in a spotted shirt, and Bambo in a striped shirt, and tied a big red ribbon round Topsy’s little head. Then she always knew which was which.

They were very naughty little niggers, and worried Mammy Chloe dreadfully with their mischievous tricks.

One day, when they were tired of rolling about in the hot sun, they crept up to the kitchen door and peeped in to see what Mammy Chloe was doing. (She used not to like them playing around when she was busy.) And, lo and behold, Mammy Chloe was baking tarts – big, round, crisp, sticky jam-tarts!

Sambo, Bambo, and Topsy felt their mouths water as they watched her set them out on the table.

Then she turned her back to the oven, and – oh, naughty Sambo, Bambo, and Topsy! – they sneaked in, snatched up the tarts, and ran off before Mammy Chloe knew anything about it.

They hid round the other side of the garden fence, and took great, big, juicy bites at the tarts – and how good they were!

Mammy Chloe Catches the Naughty NiggersBut Mammy Chloe guessed what had happened when she saw her tarts were gone. She fetched a big stick, and came quietly round the fence upon the naughty trio!

Three little niggers had a very, very bad few minutes.

“Oh,” sobbed little Sambo, “we’ll never steal tarts again!”

“Oh,” sobbed little Bambo, “never, never, never!”

“Oh,” sobbed little Topsy, “suppose we had all been dressed the same, Mammy might have made a mistake and whipped one of us twice over!”


While it’s an openly racist book, it’s surprisingly not all that sexist. One of the stories is about a mysogynistic little boy named Jim who learns a lesson from his feminist mother: “Boys with no sisters have much to learn.” (But she didn’t beat him with a stick to make her point, like Mammy did.)

7 comments to A bedtime story