A recent trip to Goodwill, a Goodwill in a very Tony town with great loot, turned up the 1968 Chinese folktale Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel, illustrated by Blair Lent. A word of warning Tikki Tikki Tembo is a cruel goddess for she gives with one hand and takes with the other. The plot centers on a Chinese family with two sons. Following tradition the first born son is given a long important name and the second son a simple name with the goal of making it clear to everyone who is the favorite. The first son’s name is Tikki tikki tembo-no sa rembo-chari bari ruchi-pip peri pembo and the second son’s name is the slightly shorter Chang. I won’t spoil the events, but there is a well, an accident, an old man, and a moral lesson learned.
The book is fun and teaches a good lesson about equality. The only problem is if your kid falls in love with it and wants to hear it every night. The first son’s name, Tikki tikki tembo-no sa rembo-chari bari ruchi-pip peri pembo is repeated numerous times throughout the book and upon completion, the reader experiences a rare condition in which one’s tongue actually hurts. So enjoy this book, but best to make it the book that the fun aunt or crazy uncle always has to read.