Tikki Tikki Tembo
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Tikki Tikki Tembo

4.19 of 5 stars 4.19  ·  rating details  ·  31,114 ratings  ·  554 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...more
Paperback, 48 pages
Published April 17th 2007 by Square Fish (first published 1968)
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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...more
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
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...more
Jade Nguyen
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...more
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...more
Tessa Ann
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
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
Aug 29, 2011 Nancy rated it 1 of 5 stars
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...more
Cheryl in CC NV
Impulse grab at the library. As some of the other reviewers have pointed out, on one hand the book is racist, implying that second children aren't loved, and culturally inaccurate, as neither the names or the story are truly Chinese. And on the other hand it's *so* much fun to read aloud, and the racial issues can be discussed & countered. Well, I do agree with all that. I'm confident I read this 3-4 decades ago - but all I remember is the style of the pictures and long name.. I do not remem...more
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...more
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
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
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 @ TeensReadToo.com

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...more
Alexa Maring
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
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...more
Nicole Thompson
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
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...more
I remember loving this book as a child and now my boys love it, too. We've had it from the library for 3 days, and it's been read no less than a dozen times. We love everything about it: the intricate artwork, the brother relationship, the pace of the language, the super long name.

I wish only that it was an accurate portrayal of a Chinese folktale. A little internet research has quickly revealed that it isn't so.
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...more
Sara Graffis
Tikki Tikki Tembo is one of the books from my childhood that brings back so many good memories! I remember my brother and I sitting with my mom reading this book over and over again and every time we would get to the Tikki tikki tembo-no sa rembo-chari bari ruchi-pip peri pembo part, my brother and I would both join in chanting it with her as she read. To this day, I have not forgotten how it goes and how much I enjoyed reading it with them. Even my nephew now (who is 4 years old) knows by heart...more
I first heard this read in the library at our elementary school. Then I heard the recorded version and I loved it. I remember going home and telling my mom the whole story. That year in school I checked it out over and over and over again, until the librarian made me pick a different book. I recently found this in a box and it made my heart happy.
Jul 12, 2008 Dolly rated it 5 of 5 stars Recommends it for: parents reading with kids
We love this story! It's so fun to read aloud and we also enjoyed listening to this read aloud on a CD in the car. It's a folktale with gorgeous and funny illustrations and a story that is a tongue-twister to read aloud. Our girls love saying the number one precious son's name aloud...over and over and over again. We've read this book several times.
Danielle Vasquez
I absolutely loved this book about the boy that fell in the well! Not only did I like it just because the story line was entertaining to read and the are work was fun, but also because of the repetition that happened throughout the story. At the end, all can say his name without even reading and that makes for a fun and engaging children's book that many will enjoy.

Along with those factors that made the tale fun to read, what I also loved about the book was the message that even though you may...more
I loved this book when I was a kid and have really enjoyed reading it to my son. He loves trying to say the whole name-lots of fun.
Racist garbage pretending to be folklore. Ugh.
Nicole Entwistle
Tikki Tikki Tembo is a story about two Chinese boys who have to different names. One boy has a short name and another one has a long name. This story is about the two boys getting into trouble and needing to be saved. The boy with the shorter name ends up getting saved faster than the boy with the longer name. This is because the boy with the shorter name has a name that is easier to say. This book would be great in the classroom to teach kids about Chinese culture and why the Chinese give their...more
Theresa Reifon
Format/Length: Picture book; 44 pages

American Library Association Notable Children's Books
Boston Globe - Horn Book Award

Theme(s): Importance of everyone, Childhood, Family/Cultural Traditions, Family


I chose to read this book because I found several blogs about it saying that it is not an authentic Chinese folktale and for class we were supposed to find a book that is not culturally authentic.

This folktale is about two Chinese boys. The mother gave her first son a...more
Summary: Keeping with Chinese tradition, a mother gives her first son a long and honorable name. Her second child receives a short and pitiful name. One day, while the mother is washing her clothes, the boys play by the well and Chang, the second son, falls in. Tikki Tikki Tembo, the first born, runs to inform his mother. She sends Tikki for the old man. Thankfully, the old man reaches Chang in time and the little boy is saved. After a while, the boys resuming playing by the well. This time it i...more
Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel, illustrated by Blair Lent, is a long-time humorous read-aloud favorite that has become controversial because of inaccuracies concerning Chinese culture within the tale.

The crux of the humor revolves around the danger for a child of having a long name, since it would be hard and cumbersome to say. The text states that a long time ago, "Chinese parents named their first born honored sons long important sounding names, but gave their second born hardly any name a...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
More about Arlene Mosel...
The Funny Little Woman Strega Nona and Other Stories from Near & Far [with Headphones] Tikki Tikki Tembo

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