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Tikki Tikki Tembo

4.2 of 5 stars 4.20  ·  rating details  ·  39,287 ratings  ·  619 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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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
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
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 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
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
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
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
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
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 @

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
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
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
Brenda Cregor
The most delightful thing about this book is that the title bears the rather fun name of the 1st and honorable son of a rather jacked up mother character.

Because of a Chinese tradition, this mother names her first son a great long name and treats him with obvious love and preference...

Tikki Tikki Tembo-no-saw-rembo-charry-barry-roochie-pit-perry-rembo= The most wonderful thing in the world

while she gives her second unfortunate son a short name...

Chong=Little, or Nothing...

and treats him with der
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.
Originally published in 1968, Tikki Tikki Tembo has continued to rank in polls as one of the top 100 best/favorite children's books well into the twenty-tens. The book is presented as a retelling of a Chinese folktale explaining why families give their children short names.

The book's layout makes wonderful use of space, contrast, and ukiyo-e style art, making it visually appealing, memorable, and easy to follow along. The text is wordy (and not just the eldest son's name) and on the smaller side
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
Brigid Sullivan
This story is based off a Chinese folktale. It is about 2 brothers, one with a short name and one with a really long name. In this ancient Chinese tale, parents always gave their first born son a very long name. One day, the younger brother falls in a well. Because his name is short, the older brother is able tell someone quickly that his brother fell in the well and he is saved. Shortly after, the elder brother falls in the well and the younger brother has to tell someone. Because the elder bro ...more
Catey Steele
Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel is about an old Chinese folk tale where the Chinese name their first-born son a very prestigious, long name. This book told the story about how that old tale changed. This was a fun book to read to the little girl I babysit. She has been constantly repeating Tikki Tikki Tembo's name since I read it to her. I think the book is cute, and that it has good intentions as the retelling of an old Chinese folk tale. My favorite part about this book was probably saying T ...more
Leesa Savage
Tikki Tikki Tembo is about a boy and his brother Chang were playing by a well, the same well their mother warned them about. Chang fell in and his brother went to get help and was rescued from the well. Sometime later the same thing happened, but with Tikki Tikki. Chang went to get help but because his name was so long it took a long time to get help to get him out of the well. So because the names were so long it took a long time for the rescue so they started to shorten names. This story was f ...more
Lauren Richards
Tikki Tikki Tembo is about a boy and his brother Chang were playing by a well, the same well their mother warned them about. Chang fell in and his brother went to get help and was rescued from the well. Sometime later the same thing happened, but with Tikki Tikki. Chang went to get help but because his name was so long it took a long time to get help to get him out of the well. So because the names were so long it took a long time for the rescue so they started to shorten names. This story was f ...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...
The Funny Little Woman Strega Nona and Other Stories from Near & Far [with Headphones]

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