Yuli's Reviews > Tikki Tikki Tembo

Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel
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Jan 10, 10

bookshelves: children-stories
Read in January, 2010

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 fun in English to chant the names but it is still saying things with wrong meaning. Children has wonderful brain that enable them to remember things when they were young and still remember it even after when they became grandparent. So, it is a pity if they have to remember incorrect things in their life. I very much prefer that the author would do a bit more research in putting the Chinese names and pick something that sounds more like Chinese language with the correct meaning.

As for the story, it's a very simple and at the end was telling us why Chinese people giving their children a short names rather than great long names. Is this valid reason??? I don't think so because there is no base to prove that Chinese people has long names before. I gave 1 star for the effort of the illustrators who draws the pictures. However, those pictures also culturally incorrect. The peoples are wearing Japanese traditional clothes but claiming to be Chinese. I think it's sad to pass this incorrect information to our children. Specially who are just starting to learn the other people's cultures.

I think Amazon or any other media should just catagorised it as children English book instead of focusing on Asian or Chinese story because it does not reflect Chinese culture correctly. Apart of that, it is sad thing to tell 2nd child that he is 'little' or 'nothing' means not loved by the mother. It is also not true in Chinese culture that 2nd son are not loved. I think it's not worth buying for your children. I regret buying it, had returned it to the shop & swap it with something else more interesting.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Wendy There are many, many examples of children's literature teaching children things that are just plain false. One such example is Ellen Stoll Walsh's _For Pete's Sake_. While you have an excellent point that children are constantly learning, it is equally true that they have a great capacity for imagination and thus can readily accept that something they read in a book is not true. I read this book as a child and never believed that Tikki Tikki Tembo was a real name, much less that it had a literal Chinese translation. The beauty in the name is that the child can learn to chant it along with Chang (no matter how much his mother loves him!).


message 2: by Gabriel (new)

Gabriel I know what you mean Yuliati - I read this book as a child and was never told what was wrong with it. Now that I see how patronising it actually looks, it seems as though my memories of reading this book aloud are all in vain.


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