Tikki Tikki Tembo

by Arlene Mosel

Other authorsBlair Lent (Illustrator)
Paperback, 1989



Local notes

398.2 Mos





Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) (1968), 48 pages


When the eldest son fell in the well and most of the time getting help was spent pronouncing the name of the one in trouble, the Chinese, according to legend, decided to give all their children short names.



Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

48 p.; 8.81 inches

Media reviews

I hope that people realize that "Tikki Tikki Tembo" contains very INCORRECT information about Chinese culture...What's even more disturbing is that the introduction written inside the book jacket made the story sound like a real folklore.

Below the review is a discussion of both the review and the
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book. (URL missing because it had been changed by a spammer.)
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User reviews

LibraryThing member sashame
why tell a chinese folktale if u dont even care abt getting the chinese part rite?!?
LibraryThing member kscarlett
This is a great book about a chinese family who has two sons. The first son in China traditionally has a very long name and this rings true with the first son of the family in the story. The second son has a short name. The two boys are playing near a well, and the second son falls in. He is saved
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and the boys go back to the well again. The first son goes in and the younger brother has to go to everyone asking for help for his brother. The first son is saved as well. This is a fun book for children to say the first boy's name.
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LibraryThing member Lara.Lofdahl
I really enjoyed this book as a child, though reading it again and reading several other reviews, it is actually rather racist. The author says it is a retelling of a Chinese folktale, but Tikki Tikki Tembo's exhaustively long name doesn't actually mean anything in Chinese and instead plays off of
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how funny the Chinese language sounds to Westerners. It is a very cute story, but seeing as the setting is Ancient China yet the language is inaccurate, the setting puts children off and gives them an inaccurate idea of China and its people. Arlene Mosel is an inauthentic author as well, as she is from Ohio and is of no Asian descent. It would be much more beneficial to students to use actual Chinese folktales that celebrate Chinese culture.
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LibraryThing member jakdomin
Great example of a fun folk tale! It shows the culture of China, with the oldest son being the more respected and loved, yet because of his high honor and ridiculously long name, it puts him in a life threatening situation. The story ends with the tale that because of this situation the Chinese
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made sure to name their children short names to be safer in such circumstances.
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LibraryThing member jadepumpsthejams
Tikki Tikki Tembo is a story about two young brothers who fall down a well while playing. The brother with the short name is saved much more quickly that his brother with the very very long name. This instance convinces all of China to name all of their children with short names for all of the days
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following. Perhaps an underlying theme is a warning against the dangers caused by favoring one child over another.
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LibraryThing member TorrieM
This is a myth of how the chinease name their children. There was once a boy with a very long name. One day he fell in the well. His brother tried to tell someone, but his name was so long no one understood what he was saying. Tikki Tikki tembo was eventually rescued from the well, but never again
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would they name a child with a long name. I would read this book to classes K-4th.
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LibraryThing member tmarks
In China the first born son is giving a long elaborate name, but what happens if he fell into a well and needed someone to come quick! A story of a younger sons race to help his brother.
LibraryThing member ASanner
Tikki Tikki Tembo is the story of a mother who named her first name a very long name because it was Chinese tradition to name your first son a long and admirable name. Her second son hardly had a name at all, Chang. One day Chang fell into the well and his brother had to go get his mother and the
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man with the ladder to save him. It did not take much time because of the Chang's short name. Weeks like Tikki Tikki Tembo fell into the well and it took a very long time to help him because his name was so long.

I didn't personally care for this book. I didn't see much of a point in it really.

The only thing I could think to do with this book would be vocabulary and discussion. Maybe do a literature circle and have students discuss what the book meant to them.
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LibraryThing member geoffman
Tikki Tikki Tembo is a peculiar Chinese folktale retold by Arlene Mosel and illustrated by Blair Lent. It is the story of a boy with an unusually long name, Tikki tikki tembo-no sa rembo-chari bari ruche pip peri pembo and his younger brother Chang. In China it is customary to give their first born
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children long and honourable names, but the second sons were hardly given any name at all. Tikki tikki tembo-no sa rembo-chari bari ruche pip peri pembo’s great and proud name becomes his burden when he is trapped in a well, leaving his brother Chang to frantically rush around the village seeking help.

This is fun tale to read to children. My nephew really got a kick out of hearing the repetition of the boy’s awkwardly long name. I appreciated the simple and delicate water colour illustrations that were reminiscent of traditional Chinese water colorings.
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LibraryThing member book58lover
One of my all time favorite folk tales that is just delightful to read aloud. Many years later a former student saw me in the grocery aisle and started chanting the refrain of Tikki's name.
LibraryThing member vnwender
This book is an old Chinese folktale retold by Arlene Mosel. Itis about how Chines name their kids. The first born is supposed to have a very long honorable nam Tikki Tikki Tembo-no-sa rembo-chari bari ruche pip peri pembo. Tikki tikki Tembo gets stuck in a well and it took them a long time to get
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him out because his name is so long. When Chang fell in it was easy to relay the message and get help. This book is a great read aloud and it is also fun for younger grades.
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LibraryThing member kjburkhalter
In China, the first born sons have long names and the sevond born sons do not. Tikki Tikki Tembo and his brother are warned not to go in the well. His brother does so Tikki Tikki Tembo goes to get the man with the ladder. But, when Tikki Tikki Tembo falls in, his brother can barely tell anyone what
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has happened. In the end, he is ok, and the Chinese stopped naming their kids with such long names.
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LibraryThing member lmaddux
Great for reading to children of all ages. Very fun book with great tongue twisters and helps get children involved. Also helps them learn about a different culture. And also, that though something may look or seem more appealing, a lot of times what is more practical is better.
LibraryThing member stevekep32
A great insight into Chinese culture in the form of a folk tale. The illustrations are very stylized and interesting to look at.
LibraryThing member clapkj01
This book I remember reading in elementary school. Its about a boy and his brother get into trouble in a well. It is almost like a song and I think kids would enjoy chanting it. It would be appropriate for ages 4-8.
LibraryThing member mstuhan
I think the value of this book is in the language and the fun of language. Great for read-aloud and I'd love to explore extensions.
LibraryThing member allawishus
I think this book stays in print due to the nostalgia factor - that's why I picked it up in the first place. The illustrations are really lovely - beautiful line and wash illustrations with a limited color palette (but not as annoying as most other older limited color palette titles are). The
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illustrations contain apparently a mishmash of Japanese and Chinese cultural signifiers - uh, oh. The story is ostensibly based on a Chinese folktale, but it teaches incorrectly that the name Chang means "little, or nothing." Also, I don't think Tikki Tikki Tembo etc. etc. is an actual Chinese name, lolol. dChildren today are far better served by more authentic Chinese folktale retellings; this book has its place in the annals of picture book history, however. And saying the name outload is never not fun!
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LibraryThing member bufkinla
I suggest this book for an interactive read aloud. Children will enjoy chanting "Tikki tikki tembo-no sa rembo-chari bari ruchi-pip peri pembo," the memorable name of the main character. The author artfully uses the name to draw readers in on every page; the text has a predictable rhythm and is
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easy to follow.
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LibraryThing member armywife4309
It is a deliteful story of a Chinese family's first born son, Tikki tikki tembo-no sa rembo-chari bari ruchi-pip peri pembo. Yes, that is his full name. His name must be spoken completely and correctly at all times. This little tale is about a young boy, Tikki tikki tembo, and his younger brother.
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Tikki falls down a well and his younger brother is trying to help him out of it. This story is fun for children. It keeps them interested due to the fun literation of Tikki's name.
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LibraryThing member kyleejohnson
This book is a Chinese folktale of a little boy with a very long name. Tikki Tikki Tembo is his nickname, but his real name is much longer. His mother gave her second son, Tikki Tikki Tembo’s brother a much shorter name, Chang. Chang falls into a well one day, and Tikki Tikki Tembo runs to get
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help for his brother. Soon after, Tikki Tikki Tembo falls into the well, and Chang runs to get him help. However, it takes Chang so long to say his brother’s full name that Tikki Tikki Tembo stayed in the well a long time before he got help.

This story was very interesting because it explains some of the Chinese cultures. My sister has a much longer name than I do, and she really dislikes how long her name is. She has two middle names and a long first name, while I on the other hand, have the much shorter name.

A teacher could read this book during a culture unit, because it describes some Chinese cultures. You could invite a Chinese guest to share his or her customs to the class and bring objects for the children to see and learn about. Another classroom extension idea could be to have the students think of rhyming names for other classmates. Encourage them to use characteristics of their fellow students to make up the rhyming name. For example, if a child loves the color green, they could be known as the “green-machine”. Let them wright their name on a name tag sticker and wear it for the rest of the day.
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LibraryThing member kagetzfred
This book is a great read for elementary aged kids. They love the way the name of the main character sounds and will probably repeat with you everytime you read it. This story is about a little boy with a long name who has a brother with a much shorter name. Tikki Tikki Tembo falls in the well, but
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it takes a long time for him to be saved because his brother has to say his full name. The story says this is why people give their children shorter names now. Very cute and comical story to read as it can be tied into a cultural unit about China or Asia. It also good for helping students with anunciation of sounds and syllables through the name of the main character.
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LibraryThing member TadAD
My kids loved having this book read to them. The refrain of "Tikki tikki tembo no sa rembo chari bari ruchi pip peri pembo" would always get them laughing hysterically.
LibraryThing member jaykay2
Summary of book:
Tikki Tikki Tembo is a book about brothers who have distinctive names. The first child was named Tikki tikki tembo- no sa rembo- chari bari ruchi- pip pero pembo. His name was so long because it was a tradition for the first child to have a long honorable name. The second child was
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named Chang which meant "little or nothing". Tikki tikki tembo- no sa rembo- chari bari ruchi- pip pero pembo was the mothers favorite child. Well the boys were playing near a well one day when Chang fell in. Tikki tikki tembo- no sa rembo- chari bari ruchi- pip pero pembo ran to get help and Chang was back to normal very soon. The boys went back to the well a few days later when Tikki tikki tembo- no sa rembo- chari bari ruchi- pip pero pembo fell in. Chang went to get help and was being sent around to many people to get help. Chang kept having to repeat the long name over and over. When Tikki tikki tembo- no sa rembo- chari bari ruchi- pip pero pembo was finally pulled out of the well, he was never the same again.

Personal reaction:
I enjoy reading this book because Tikki tikki tembo- no sa rembo- chari bari ruchi- pip pero pembo is such a fun name to say with the children. It also proves the underdog (which would be Chang) coming up on top in the end.

Extension Ideas:
When reading the story, I would ask the children to say Tikki tikki tembo- no sa rembo- chari bari ruchi- pip pero pembo every time his name comes up so the story can be interactive.
I would have the children come up with their own long honorable name and create their own family with two children, one having a long name and one with a short. Also, have them create their own story with the same concept.

Grades 1-10
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LibraryThing member juliehrbacek
In the Chinese folktale, the first-born son of the family is honored by being given a very long name. His brother, the second son is hardly given any consideration at all. The two misbehave twice and the first incident ends happily, but the following one ends tragically, with the first son nearly
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drowning because his name was so long that the second son can barely summons help for him. There is no "moral" to this story because the only thing that the Chinese learned from this story is that they should shorten the names of all of their children. The difference in the Chinese culture where one child is overtly favored and the American culture where all children are (hopefully) equally loved is obvious. The story is more interesting as a read-aloud book because of the unusual name and its repetition.

When I bought this book, I knew I had heard it read before, probably in elementary school. I was sure that it was a very old story and one that was a "classic" so I thought I would like it. Instead, I found it disturbing. The difference between our cultures has made me think this treatment is unfair, but in China it is completely normal and a part of the way they have lived for generations.

As a classroom extension, this book could be read to study the culture of China along with a social studies lesson with the students comparing and contrasting the two. It could be studied as a part of a multi-cultural lesson in almost any subject. A good time to introduce the book might be during the Chinese New Year.
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LibraryThing member krystyne1973
The book,Tikki Tikki Tembo, is a story about 2 brothers. One brother has a short name and the other has a long name. When the short named brother falls in a well, he is rescued right away. But when the long named brother falls into the well it turns out to be a more difficult rescue.

I loved this
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book as a child. Reading the story plus trying to say the boy's long name over and over again was a lot of fun. I have fond memories of this book.

In the classroom, since this book is about China and a folktale regarding why the Chinese names are so short, it would be great to have the class talk about their traditions in their own family. Also this story could be a great introduction into a social studies lesson on China.
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