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Tikki Tikki Tembo
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Tikki Tikki Tembo

4.8 73
by Arlene Mosel, Blair Lent (Illustrator)

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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


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, to learn about the danger of having such an honorable name as Tikki tikki tembo-no sa rembo-chari bari ruchi-pip peri pembo.

Tikki Tikki Tembo is the winner of the 1968 Boston Globe - Horn Book Award for Picture Books.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Tikki tikki tembo-no sa rembo-chari bari ruchi-pip peri pembo is the full name of the firstborn son in the Chinese family of this story. As the firstborn's, his name must be spoken completely and reverently. This old folktale of what happens when the boy falls into a well and his younger brother attempts to get help is nicely retold and should make excellent read-aloud material....Bright, active, and delightfully expressive.” —School Library Journal

“On spacious, uncluttered pages the artist has extended the story with wonderfully droll ink-and-wash drawings that combine imaginative beauty with a true Chinese spirit.” —The Horn Book

“Just right for storytelling and tongue-twisting repeating, and . . . for reading aloud.” —Kirkus Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this folktale, help is slow in coming when a Chinese boy falls into a well, since the boy's long and difficult name must be pronounced in full. Beautifully expressive drawings enhance the book's Oriental feel. Ages 4-7. (Oct.)
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 3—In this classic Chinese folktale, retold by Arlene Mosel and illustrated by Blair Lent (Holt, 1968), Tikki tikki tembo-no sa rembo-chari bari ruche-pip peri pembo and younger brother Chang are playing near a well and Chang falls in. The older boy goes for help and Chang is rescued. Months later, the older brother falls in, but when Chang runs to get help, his brother's very long name requires too much breath and Chang can't get his mother to understand. In the end, Tikki tikki tembo is rescued. "And from that day to this, the Chinese have always thought it wise to give all their children little, short names." Marcia Gay Harden provides wonderful narration, giving each character a distinctive voice. A few sound effects add to the telling. Have the book available so that listeners can peruse Blair Lent's lovely line and wash illustrations. A great addition for listening centers.—Stephanie Farnlacher, Trace Crossings School, Hoover, AL

Product Details

Square Fish
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
8.30(w) x 9.94(h) x 0.10(d)
AD1090L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Arlene Mosel (1921-1996) first heard the story of Tikki tikki tembo as a child. When she grew up, she shared this wonderful tale with countless children, including her own. Because so many young listeners responded enthusiastically, she decided to write her own retelling, and Tikki Tikki Tembo became her first book for children. The book was named an American Library Association Notable Book and won the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award. In 1997, The New York Times named it one of the best 50 children's books of the previous 50 years. Mosel was also the author of The Funny Little Woman, which won the 1973 Caldecott Medal for Blair Lent's illustrations and was recognized as an Honor Book by the Hans Christian Andersen International Children's Book Awards. Mosel was an associate professor of library science at Case Western Reserve University. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Mosel died in Indianapolis in 1996.

Blair Lent began illustrating picture books in the 1960s. He received the Caldecott Medal in 1973 for The Funny Little Woman, by Arlene Mosel, and has also been awarded three Caldecott Honors. He lives and works in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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Tikki Tikki Tembo (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition) 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 73 reviews.
bedesheart More than 1 year ago
I bought the original Tikki Tikki Tembo almost 35 years ago. At that time my daughter was about 5 years old. We read the book so many times that it almost fell apart. If I am not mistaken it had an award symbol on the cover but of course over the passage of time I cannot remember the source. She never forgot the story or the full name of Tikki Tikki Tembo. Forgive me if this is incorrect but I believe his entire first name was: Tikki Tikki Tembo No Sa Rembo Sari Bari Ruchi Pip Peri Pembo. After reading the book for about 3 days my grand daughter of 4 called me and recited his whole name with much excitement and told me the story. I am so happy I found this book through Barnes and Noble. Her little sister of 2 is now trying to say his name. I thinks this story will be passed down to another generation. I just wish I still had the original hardback. Thank You!
GrammiePoet More than 1 year ago
This story - while probably not an authentic Chinese folk tale - has been around a long time. I was read the story in school in the 1950s; I read it to my children in the 1970s; and I recently purchased a copy for my grandson. The story depends on the repetition of an improbably complicated name: Tikki Tikki Tembo No Sa Rembo Chari Bari Ruchi Pip Peri Pembo! By teh end of the first reading, my not-quite-three-year-old grandson had nearly memorized it, and after the second reading the next evening, he had it down pat. Since memorization is a foundational skill, this book is a fun one to use. The story is fun, and involves two little boys who disobey their mother - not once, but twice - each time with disastrous consequences. This does provide an opportunity to discuss rules and why parents make them! On the other hand, most children will immediately get that this is a nonsense story and not need the heavy-handed lesson!
LadyTory More than 1 year ago
My son is six years old and absolutely loves this book. And I am ever grateful for the wonderful narration by Marcia Gay Harden, who says Tikki Tikki Tembo's full name over and over and over again so I don't have to! The background music that accompanies the Read To Me feature is also lovely and really adds to the listening experience for kids and parents. I highly recommend this Nook book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In my search to find some books to read to my baby, I thought of some of the books that I loved when I was a child. This is one of those books that just happens to be very unforgettable. I first heard this story when I was 6 years old and have loved it ever since. Now I can pass the story down to my children.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My boys loved this book. I told them I read this book when I was little, made them want tonread it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
i loved this book when I was little...it was kool...I even named my cat after the boys name........its awesome
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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mommom10 More than 1 year ago
my granddaughter loved this book from the school liibrary, she was reading it everyone. So I bought her own copy , and the other book written by this for her birthday.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Tikki Tikki Tembo is written as a pourquoi story to explain why Chinese families give their children such short names. Apparently, Chinese families once gifted their first born sons with ridiculously long and elaborate names. This is the case with the stories protagonist, Tikki Tikki Tembo-no Sa Rembo-chari Bari Ruchi-pip Peri Pembo. Tikki Tikki Tembo and his little brother Chang are playing together one day when Chang falls into a well. Tikki Tikki Tembo runs home and alerts his family of the danger so that Chang is promptly rescued. The problem occurs later when Tikki Tikki Tembo falls into the well. Chang runs home to try to tell his family about the danger, but he is so out of breath that he can't pronounce his brother's ridiculously long name. It takes so long for Chang to relay the story that by the time he does, Tikki Tikki Tembo is in critical danger. Chang rescues his brother with little time to lose. This story is a fun and playful read for young children. The name "Tikki Tikki Tembo-no Sa Rembo-chari Bari Ruchi-pip Peri Pembo" has a great rhythm to it. It is fun for children to chant along with. The story is simple to understand and the pictures are nice to look at. Even though the book is a fun read, it has been met with some criticism. The story functions as a kind of manufactured traditional tale. Although most adults can recognize that this is intended to be a silly story, it is possible that younger children may develop an inaccurate understanding of Chinese culture. But as long as it is contextualized, this can be a very fun and engaging picture book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fun book to read with a child and have the child read on his/her own b/c of the sing-song refrain. I saw the title, smiled and began repeating the refrain myself after 40 years. Tikki Tikki Tembo No Sir Rembo Chari bari...... :-)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
LemaMichelle More than 1 year ago
Tikki Tikki tembo-no sa rembo-chari bari ruchi-pip peri pembo is sure to twist and tie your tongue in many ways! This Chinese folk tale is a great story to teach children to listen to thier mothers and not play near wells! I love the effect the folktale has on history saying that from then on families no longer gave their children long and complicated names. It's a fun way to incorporate moral and history through a humorous and rhythmic folk tale like Tiki Tiki Tembo. I found that this book is a great repetition that would be great for younger children. You could turn the tongue twisting name into a song that the students could definitely recite with you. You'll have a great time reading this book aloud to yourself or to young children. It's a fun story to read quickly to see if you can keep up with the words. Definite tongue twister that'll have you shouting it louder and louder to try and grasp the words!
Rose_P More than 1 year ago
This beautifully colored children's book is a great tale of life lessons for both children and parents. It can show young children that bad decision that you make has a consequence to go with it and that your parents make rules for a reason, usually to keep you safe. It also shows parents that they should not value one child over another, we are all created equal! This book would also be a great tool for teaching young children about some of the differences between different cultures.
I-Got-Seoul More than 1 year ago
This may a popular and humorous story, but it did not capture my attention. I was a bit distracted by the art. Taking into account that this was published over forty years ago, the illustrations were a little junvenile. Then again, that may have been the point. The story itself is a tale about Chinese names and how they came to be, which made for a cute narration. Although I appreciate the opportunity to read the story, this is a book I may not consider for my library.
LaTonne_TxRN More than 1 year ago
This book weaves a colorful and fun adventure into a story that explains why the Chinese now have such short names. The repetition and rhymes captivate children of all ages, and it is not long before they are "reading" the book to you!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is great for children of all ages. Its entertaining yet it has a moral behind it. 5 stars love this book, cant go wrong with this book. :)
Moy27 More than 1 year ago
I've read this book so many times for the kids I've taken care of and my own and I know I will always remember it! It is such a great book to read to children. It's about how the Chinese used to use very long names for their children. Very funny too. I highly recommend it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
We used to have a woman come into our class and read books,i am now 29 and Tikki Tembo stuck with me.I recently bought it to give to my child someday.It is such a cute/funny story and i also love the illustrations!I can't wait to share it with my future child!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Spartan More than 1 year ago
good for 5-7 ages
GailCooke More than 1 year ago
It's amazing what luster is brought to an old tale when it's retold. Consider it not only being retold but beautifully illustrated in a full color book version which is accompanied by a CD featuring narration by an Academy Award winning actress. So, read it aloud or let your young ones listen to the entrancing reading by Marcia Gay Harden - either way is pure pleasure. This old Chinese folktale always brings smiles from young listeners. As many recall Tikki tikki tembo-no sa rembo-chari uchi-pip peri pembo is the name given to a mother's first and most honored son. It means "the most wonderful thing in the whole wide world." A second son is given a name meaning zip or "nothing." Talk about a basis for sibling rivalry! Nonetheless, the thing about being the firstborn and tagged with such a lengthy name is that the name must always be repeated in full. Thus, problems quickly arise when Tikki tikki tempo tumbles into a well and needs rescuing quickly. Today there are over 1,000,000 copies of this story in print, but this issue is surely far and above others. Enjoy! - Gail Cooke