Tikki Tikki Tembo

The best part about Tikki Tikki Tembo is reading it aloud.  Ever since its publication in 1968, kids have delighted in saying the full name of a little boy; Tikki tikki tembo-no sa rembo-chari bari ruchi-pip peri pembo!  Years later, they’ll still remember the name and smile at the memory of reading Arlene Mosel’s book.

Tikki Tikki Tembo is a re-creation of a Chinese folktale about how shorter names came to be for all children.  Usually, the first child is honored with a long name, but after he falls down a well, so much time is spent saying his name in order to get help, it is finally decided that giving children short names is a much better idea.   Tikki Tikki Tembo is rescued and history is forever altered.

Blair Lent’s line-and-wash illustrations use muted colors and dark shades.  Lent creates a vision that makes the story look like it came straight from a Chinese folk book.  Tikki flies and elaborate kite and his mother and the old man wear traditional clothing.  The pictures are prominent against a stark white background within the book, offering plenty of room to the brief text.  44 pages long, even if kids forget what the actual story is about, they’ll definitely remember the title.  Parents and children can giggle with one another as they recite the main character’s name over and over with the occasional purposeful goof-up to invite even more laughter.  One of the more memorable children’s books, this one will stick with readers forever.

tikki tikki tembo


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