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Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel

Tikki Tikki Tembo (original 1968; edition 2007)

by Arlene Mosel, Blair Lent (Illustrator), Arlene Mosel (Author)

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2,7151222,174 (4.09)22
Title:Tikki Tikki Tembo
Authors:Arlene Mosel
Other authors:Blair Lent (Illustrator), Arlene Mosel (Author)
Info:Square Fish (2007), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 48 pages
Collections:fantasy, fiction, picture books
Tags:First Name, traditions, culture

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Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel (1968)


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This is the legend of how the Chinese decided that it would be wise to give each of their children short names. It is the story of a mother and her two young sons. They boys love the play near the old well while their mother is washing the clothes, and at first the youngest son falls into the well. They are able to rescue him quickly since he had a short name. However, a few months later the boys go back to playing by and on the well and the oldest son falls into the well and it takes a while before they are able to get him out.
This book fits into the folktale/legend category as it is a culture specific story and explanation of how the Chinese thought to give their children short names.
I would read this story to any age of students. I would have students look for different things in the book though, depending on their age level.
  Michaiah.Annear | Mar 17, 2017 |
  SteppLibrary | Mar 5, 2017 |
A great book to teach what a folktale is and introduce students to Chinese culture.
  ansleyg | Feb 25, 2017 |
When two brothers are playing by a well one day in this folk tale, things go awry. As the brother goes to get help for Tikki Tikki Tembo No Sarimbo Hari Kari Bushkie Perry Pem Do Hai Kai Pom Pom Nikki No Meeno Dom Barako, they end up realizing his name is too long. This is a Chinese folk tale and can be used for children of all ages as a read aloud tool. The use of repetition helps children become familiar with the concept as it is prevalent throughout the entire story. ( )
  AshlynWilliams | Feb 20, 2017 |
In this tale, there are two brothers, one with a short name and one with a very long name. One day the brother with the short name falls into the well, but is brother is able to quickly run and get help. However, months later, the brother with the long name falls into the well. Since his name is so long, it takes a long time for help to come, and the boy becomes ill for a long time as a result.
This Chinese myth is an excellent example of a folk tale because it is a story that was passed on orally for many years with no known author. Additionally, it provides Chinese children an explanation as to why names are kept short in their culture.
1. One way to use this story would be during a lesson on names. A good follow up activity would be to have kids write about how they got their names and what their names mean.
2. Another way to use this tale would be a lesson on folk tale myths. After reading this story, students could help the teacher to identify the different parts of the story that classify it as a myth.
Age Appropriateness: primary, intermediate, middle school
Media: watercolor ( )
  rstewart15 | Feb 12, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 122 (next | show all)
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 book.

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added by MarthaJeanne | editChild_Lit, Shwu-yi Leu (Oct 2, 1998)

» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Arlene Moselprimary authorall editionscalculated
Lent, BlairIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
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Once, upon a time, a long, long time ago, it was the custom of all the fathers and mothers in China to give their first and honored sons great long long names.
Her second son she called Chang, which meant "little or nothing." But her first and honored son, she called Tikki tikki tembo-no sa rembo-chari bari ruchi-pip peri pembo, which meant "the most wonderful thing in the whole wide world!"
"Unfortunate Son, surely the evil spirits have bewitched your tongue. Speak your brother's name with reverence."
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0312367481, Paperback)

If you haven't already read Tikki Tikki Tembo, you've probably heard at least someone recite the deliriously long name of its protagonist: Tikki tikki tembo-no sa rembo-chari bari ruchi-pip peri pembo, by now a famous refrain in most nursery schools. In this beautiful edition--complete with line and wash illustrations by artist Blair Lent--Arlene Mosel retells an old Chinese folktale about how the people of China came to give their children short names after traditionally giving their "first and honored" sons grand, long names. Tikki tikki tembo (which means "the most wonderful thing in the whole wide world") and his brother Chang (which means "little or nothing") get into trouble with a well, are saved by the Old Man with the Ladder, and change history while they're at it. Tikki Tikki Tembo is a perfect book to read aloud, but don't be surprised if you find yourself joining the ranks of its chanting followers. (Picture book)

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:03 -0400)

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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.

(summary from another edition)

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