A Hero Ain't Nothin' but a Sandwich

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A Hero Ain't Nothin' but a Sandwich
Author Alice Childress
Country United States
Language English
Genre Young adult
Publisher Coward, McCann & Geoghegan
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardcover)
Pages 126 pp
ISBN 0-698-20278-3
OCLC 797036
LC Class PZ7.C4412 He

A Hero Ain't Nothin' but a Sandwich is a 1973 young adult novel by Alice Childress.


Benjie is a 13-year-old, living in the urban ghetto of the 1970s, who succumbs to the allure of heroin. Encouraged by his friends, Benjie gets hooked on the dangerous monster that is slowly dictating his life. Everyone is urging him to stop but he cannot, as he is addicted to the drug. He disdains his counselors and teachers. After a final confrontation with his stepfather, he promises to quit.

Awards and nominations[edit]

A Hero Ain't Nothin' but a Sandwich won an ALA Coretta Scott King Award honor, the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award, and the Jane Addams Award for a young adult novel.


The main reference of the title comes from the same phrase that Benjie uttered in the book. The real question is what it means. Benjie is implying that in the harsh world that he lives in, heroes and saviors have ceased to exist.[citation needed]

Film adaptation[edit]

The book was adapted into a film in 1978 starring Cicely Tyson and Paul Winfield and directed by Ralph Nelson.


In 1975, the book was removed from high school library shelves by the board of education of the Island Trees Union Free School District in New York. This case became the subject of a U.S. Supreme Court case in 1982.[1]


  1. ^ "Island Trees Sch. Dist. v. Pico by Pico 457 U.S. 853 (1982)". Justia. Retrieved September 30, 2015.