tikki tikki tembo


Note: This post is part of a series on School Library Media/Materials for a course

Scholastic (Producer & Director). (2011). Tikki Tikki Tembo and more favorite tales [Motion Picture]. USA: Scholastic.

This video contains six tales from Asia.  Tikki Tikki Tembo: This Chinese folktale explains why great long names are no longer chosen for their children. The Tale of the Mandarin Ducks: A compassionate couple risks their lives to reunite a pair of Mandarin ducks. Grandfathers’s Journey: A story about Grandfather’s travels from Japan to the United States and back again. The Stone Cutter: Tasaku is a stonecutter who longs for more power in this Japanese folk tale. Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story from China: This Asian version of the classic fairytale teaches lessons about strangers, trust, and courage. Sam and the Lucky Money: On Chinese New Year, Sam meets a stranger who helps him make the perfect decision on how to spend his lucky money.

This video animates six Asian tales, including Tikki Tikki Tembo, a well-known and oft-used children’s picture book. While I feel that Asian folktales are a much needed asset to library collections, I’m wary about recommending this title (the book or the video) for a collection. Many of the stories in this collection are not written by Asian authors. The art and music is not composed by Asian artists. The only real Asian influence in the video is the narrators, well-known actors B.D. Wong and Ming-Na. While these tales may be authentic folktales from Asia, I would prefer the stories be from Asian authors and vetted for accuracy. These sentiments are echoed by the blog post Rethinking Tikki Tikki Tembo. Grace Lin brings up some very important points about Tikki Tikki Tembo and its use in curriculum, and because of these concerns I’m not sure how valuable this title would be to understanding Asian culture versus reinforcing ideas of Asian culture. Tikki Tikki Tembo itself has been called “pseudo-Oriental”  and the same could be said of the other stories in the video.  I feel there are better titles to include in the library collection.

English/Language Arts Standards:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.2.4 Describe how words and phrases (e.g., regular beats, alliteration, rhymes, repeated lines) supply rhythm and meaning in a story, poem, or song.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.2.2 Recount stories, including fables and folktales from diverse cultures, and determine their central message, lesson, or moral.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.2.3 Describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.

Links to supporting content:

Wikipedia-Chinese Folklore

Rethinking Tikki Tikki Tembo

Japanese Folklore

Folklore and Popular Culture

Subjects/themes: Folklore — Asia — Juvenile films.

Series information: Scholastic Storybook Treasures