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Tikki Tikki Tembo

4.21  ·  Rating Details ·  47,953 Ratings  ·  717 Reviews
Tikki tikki tembo-no sa rembo-
chari bari ruchi-pip peri pembo!

Three decades and more than one million copies later children still love hearing about the boy with the long name who fell down the well. Arlene Mosel and Blair Lent's classic re-creation of an ancient Chinese folktale has hooked legions of children, teachers, and parents, who return, generation after generation
Paperback, 48 pages
Published April 17th 2007 by Square Fish (first published 1968)
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Jan 10, 2010 Yuli rated it did not like it
Shelves: children-stories
One thing that really bothers me is that the long name Tikki Tikki Tembo-no ...... doesn't mean "the most wonderful thing in the whole wide world" and also 'Chang' doesn't mean "little or nothing". In fact, the long name 'tikki tikki tembo-no .... ' is sound more Japanese than Chinese. As someone who understand Chinese & Japanese language, I feel it is very annoying to tell a wrong thing to the children. I actually confused them by teaching the wrong meanings of "Chang". While it's probably ...more
Oct 30, 2012 Irene rated it did not like it
I always felt slightly uneasy about this story even when I was a child. So much so, that a few years ago I looked the book up to re-read it.

Tikki tikki tembo-no sa rembo-chari bari ruchi-pip peri pembo reminded of the nonsense "Chinese" words kids would string together to mock me and the other Chinese kids in school. It's almost the equivalent of going up to a kid of Asian descent and chanting, "ching chong ching" --not necessarily racist but very ignorant.

I hope that these days there are fun, e
Jan 10, 2008 Ian added it
Since I have a rather perverse fascination with being a killjoy when it comes to cultural myths about the Chinese, I looked up something I've been meaning to find for a long time.

Of course I already knew that the name of the title character didn't sound Chinese at all. While I generally agree with the notion that the story doesn't accurately reflect historical Chinese culture, I still nonetheless like the the tale, especially the illustrations. There's thi
Jade Nguyen
Sep 12, 2011 Jade Nguyen rated it liked it
1. Folktale/Fable

2. Two Chinese brothers, the first-born named Tikki tikki tembo-no sa rembo-chari bari ruchi-pip peri pembo and the second born named Chang, both fall into a well at different points in the story. Chang is immediately saved by the old man, but it takes longer for Tikki Tikki tembo-no sa rembo-chari bari ruchi-pip peri pembo to be saved and recover due to his long name.

3a. Area for comment: Accuracy ( - )

3b. The title, Tikki Tikki Tembo, does not accurately represent the ancient
Jan 08, 2011 Ronyell rated it really liked it
I actually first heart of this book on a Weston Woods video and I really enjoyed this story! “Tikki Tikki Tembo” is an old Chinese folktale retold by Arlene Mosel along with illustrations by Blair Lent and it is about how a young boy named Tikki tikki tembo-no sa rembo-chari bari ruche-pip peri pembo (what a name!) gets into big trouble because of his long name. “Tikki Tikki Tembo” is certainly a great book for children who are fans of Chinese folklore!

I have always found this book extremely int
I have very mixed feelings on this book.

I have very fond memories of this book from when I was a child. Our librarian at school used to read the story of brothers where Tiki's long name almost loses him his life after he is stuck in a well. It is supposed to be a traditional story about how Chinese names came to be so short. I loved this story as a kid.

However, the truth is, as an adult I recognize it sounds a lot more Japanese than Chinese. Also the pictures are a lot more Japanese than Chines
Aug 29, 2011 Nancy rated it did not like it
Shelves: kids
I love this story. I love the repetition. I love the rhythm of the repeated name. It's funny. But it doesn't feel at all Chinese. It feels condescending--those funny Asians with their nonsense language.

When a teacher I taught with included this and several other stories "about China" in a unit on China, I had to squirm. I had just returned from living in China and wanted to give the kids a feeling for actaul Chinese folktales

Tiki Tiki Tembo is probably based on a Japanese story in which the dad
Mar 21, 2015 Kristy rated it really liked it
Shelves: kids-books, n-s-core
This is a fun story to read aloud! The title Tikki Tikki Tembo is a shortening of a very long name that poses a problem for one of the characters in this book about two brothers.

We read it to our five-year-old after looking at some of Jim Trelease's suggestions in The Read-Aloud Handbook for "primary children who had not been read to" that were chosen for the purpose of lengthening children's listening attention spans. Books are a major part of the environment in our household and I think I can
Mar 02, 2016 F. rated it did not like it

Even though I liked it as a child, the racism (I am a first generation American and was tuned in to such things even when young) bothered me.

Now it turns out that not only is it not really cute to poke fun at little Chinese customs, they didn't even have that custom and the names don't mean what the author says they did and the costumes are wrong. (I had my doubts that the title one meant "most wonderful..." even when I was young enough to be read to.

Also there is that little annoyance th
Tessa Ann
Mar 08, 2013 Tessa Ann rated it it was ok
When I was younger I had read this book and enjoyed it, so when I had saw it at the book store the other day I wanted to read it to remember why I enjoyed it so much. After reading it I came to realize why I had enjoyed it so much. I really enjoyed his name Tikki tikki tembo no sa rembo-chari bari ruchi-pip peri pembo, yes it was very long but i looked forward to saying it over and ver again. I think that children would love this book because it rhymes and what kid doesn't like to rhyme? You can ...more
Jan 05, 2009 Jennifer rated it liked it
As a child, I loved this story and my poor mother to read it every night for who knows how long. I remembered it so fondly I couldn't wait to read it to my children. The song songy name of the child is much longer than the title and so fun to say when you're a kid. I was horrified to finally find the book at my mothers and read it to my 4 year old. The nostalgia and childhood niavete masked the awfulness of this story about a mother who only cares for one child, her firstborn. The lesson is rein ...more
Jun 25, 2013 midnightfaerie rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens
We really enjoyed this one as a family. My 5 yr old remembered when we were studying China and loved the pictures, especially of the one with the dragon. It was a little wordy to be less than a level 3, but as I read it, even the preschoolers seemed fascinated. It was probably the repetition of Tikki Tikki Tembo's name over and over again. I stumbled over it more than once, but it has a wonderful rhythm to it. (It'd be great for a drinking game - not with children of course.) :)
Overall, a nice c
Julia Brumfield
Jun 30, 2016 Julia Brumfield rated it really liked it
Another childhood favorite - more so for the actual name than the story itself although the two are woven together. What intrigues me now is that looking over the reviews I find so many pointing out the "racism" of the book and also the incorrect cultural errors thus taking away from the actual story of itself. There may be those particular things in the book but it would be like putting down "Gone With the Wind" while for those who are so much into looking for racism check out the original pub ...more
Laura Brenneisen
Title: Tikki Tikki Tembo By: Arlene Mosel Copyright: 2007 Number of Pages: 48 Lit Require: Traditional Literature # 2

It was a tradition in the Chinese culture to name the first son with a long and meaningful name and the second one with a short and not so meaningful name. Tikki Tikki Tembo-no sa rembo-chari bari ruchi-pip peri pembo, was the name of the first son, Chang was the name of the second son. There was a well that their mother had told them to not go near because they will fall in, sure
Mar 21, 2016 Karen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: jacob, ellie, mom, dad
The kids loved memorizing the boys name. This was a favorite of Jacob's. Will need to pull this one out again :)..krb 2/23/16

Ellie read for naptime..krb 3/17/16
Nov 19, 2015 Juli19 rated it it was amazing
This is a story about a Chinese family. The mother had two children and named the older son with a very long name and the younger son with a short name because that was the custom in the ancient china. One day the younger son fell into a well that was close to a river that the mother used to go. The older boy ran to her mother and told her that his brother had fallen into the well. The mother got scared and told the boy to go look for the old man with the ladder to get the boy out of the well. T ...more
Mar 07, 2016 Mitchell rated it really liked it
Clever and funny myth book concerning birth order and the benefit of short names. So it's not really a Chinese legend or using Chinese names. And it almost certainly adds to misconceptions. It's still a cute story with nice art.
Inspired Kathy
May 14, 2009 Inspired Kathy rated it really liked it
Not a real chinese folktale but still a fun book to read. Gotta love trying to say the entire name...Tikki tikki tembo-no sa rembo-chari bari ruchi-pip peri pembo.
Missy Kutyla
Oct 06, 2009 Missy Kutyla rated it it was amazing
Sarah, Thanks for bringing back fun memories. This became one of my favorite read-alouds in my student teaching days based on how my third-grade students responded to this literature. I did a section on international festivals and symbolisms in other cultures for social studies and made informational animals/dragon symbolism posters to hang in the room. I had this incredibly long name on the board with some words covered to see who was familiar with the story and build anticipation. Some kids wo ...more
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Jaglvr for Kids @

You know you have a classic on your hands when your son sees the book you're showing him and goes, "I LOVE that book! We read it in library class!" So already, I had the battle half won when I told my two kids that I received the book and CD to review. As soon as we got in the car to drive to grandma's house, they asked me to put the CD in and leaned together in the back seat with the book open between them.

MacMillan Audio has taken a classic that is
Alexa Maring
Apr 06, 2011 Alexa Maring rated it it was amazing
I used to LOVE this book as a child! The character's name brought such rhythm to the story, it was almost intoxicating to say. Children love to say the name! In a read aloud, let them insert his name, rather than reading it on your own. Let them be a part of the story! As many children's story share, the moral of this story is to listen when you are told something. Not listening to his mother wound little Chang at the bottom of a well! Not learning their lesson the first time, Tikki tikki tembo- ...more
u1124876 UEL
Sep 24, 2011 u1124876 UEL rated it really liked it
This is tale of young Tikki tikki tembo-no sa rembo-chari bari ruchi-pip peri pembo, who is the first born son, and his little brother called Chang! The long name means 'the most wonderful thing in the whole wide world' and his little brother’s name means 'little or nothing'.

I can imagine having a lot fun reading this with a class of lower KS1 children and possibly role playing Tikki Tikki Tembo falling down the well and Chang rushing, with his little legs, to tell Mother. I would need excellen
Nicole Thompson
Nov 08, 2011 Nicole Thompson rated it it was amazing
When I was younger I absolutely loved reading this book. I found it on a website listing social issue books, and decided to read it again. this book definitely contains social issues, those of the chinese culture and how it can effect its children. This book is about a boy named Tikki tikki tembo-no sa rembo-chari bari ruchi-pip peri pembo. His name is so long because he is the first born son in his family. His younger brother grows to strongly dislike his own very short name because it doesn't ...more
Joy Colclasure
Apr 23, 2012 Joy Colclasure rated it it was amazing
Shelves: multicultural
This book is a great Chinese folktale. I loved the story line. This is also a good book to review alliteration. The illustrations are so detailed and really showed the Chinese culture as far as clothes, the houses, and the festivals. This is a fun book to get your children to join in saying Tikki, Tikki, Tembo's full name. I will add this to my list of must reads especially when we celebrate Chinese new year in my class.

Extension Activity: After reading this book I will retell this folktale with
Sarah (Books Before Bandaids)
Jul 21, 2016 Sarah (Books Before Bandaids) rated it did not like it
Shelves: picture-books
This was a blast from the past for me, but is also a very controversial story, Tikki Tikki Tembo, retold by Arlene Mosel and illustrated by Blair Lent. According to the book, a long time ago in China the custom was for first sons to have long names and second sons to have short names. Tikki tikki tembo-no sa rembo-chari bari ruchi-pip peri pempo was a first son whose name meant most wonderful thing in the whole world, his brother, the second son, was named Chang, which meant nothing. The two boy ...more
Sarah Wurster
Two boys live with their mother near an old well. The eldest is considered the more important of the two, and his is the extraordinarily long name. His younger brother is named Chang. Chang and Tikki love one another, and when Chang falls into the well his brother rushes off to save him. Tikki fetches the old man with the ladder, who rescues the sodden boy. Later the boys play around the well again and this time it's Tikki who has fallen in. When Chang attempts to tell his mother what has happen ...more
Rachael Thom
Dec 17, 2015 Rachael Thom rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
Summarize the book:
This book is about two brothers. The older brother has a REALLY long name because in Chinese culture that meant he was most important. The younger brother has a really short name. The boy’s play near a well and once when the younger boy fell in, he received help right away because his name was easy to say. When the older boy fell in the well, it was harder for him to receive help because it took longer for the younger boy to say his name and tell what happened. This is an old
Sarah Zablotney
Title: Tikki Tikki Tembo
Author: Arlene Mosel
Illustrator: Blair Lent
Genre: Non-European Folktale
Theme(s): Hope, Escape, Family
Opening line/sentence: “Once upon a time, a long, long time ago. “
Brief Book Summary: It was a custom in China that the first born son had a very long name. Tikki Tikki Tembo and his brother always play by the well, one day his brother fell in and they were able to get him out quickly. The next time they went to the well Tikki Tikki Tembo fell into the well and he was in
Caitlin O'Connor
Tikki-Tikki Tembo is a story about to brothers, one is named Tikki-tikki-tembo-no-rambo-chari-bari-ruchi-pip-peri-pembo which means “the most wonderful thing in the whole wide world” and his brother is named Chang which means “little or nothing”. The story proceeds that the two boys are told by their mother not to play by the water well, but after the boys disobey their mother and play by the well Chang falls into the well by accident and Tikki-Tikki is able to go get help and save him; but late ...more
Jun 01, 2015 Sarina rated it it was ok
Tikki Tikki Tembo (short for Tikki Tikki Tembo No Sarimbo Hari Kari Bushkie Perry Pem Do Hai Kai Pom Pom Nikki No Meeno Dom Barako) is a boy who lives in China with his brother Sam. Like any child would do, the two brothers began playing by a well. First, Sam falls into the well. After some fuss, the gardener comes to save Sam from drowning. As if one child falling into a well wasn't hectic enough, Tikki Tikki Tembo No Sarimbo Hari Kari Bushkie Perry Pem Do Hai Kai Pom Pom Nikki No Meeno Dom Bar ...more
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Arlene Tichy Mosel was a American author of children's literature who was best-known for her illustrated books Tikki Tikki Tembo, a retelling of a Chinese folk tale, and the award-winning The Funny Little Woman, which was the recipient of the Caldecott Medal for illustration in 1973.

She was born as Arlene Tichy on August 27, 1921, in Cleveland, Ohio to Edward J. Tichy, an engraver and Marie Fingul
More about Arlene Mosel...

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