I have to say that I’ve read Tiki Tiki Tembo to my kids so many times that we all can say his long version name. I just wanted to suggest other books for Chinese New Year because it’s kind of a fake Chinese Folk Tale about why Chinese names are so short today. For kids who might not have a lot of exposure to China, Chinese Americans and/or Chinese Culture, it sets the wrong tone, implying that the Chinese are foolish and stupid.
Grace Lin’s blog has more:
- The book purports to be an “old Chinese folktale,” but it is not. It is actually thought to be based on a Japanese folktale called Jugemu. Presumably, that tale was picked up and retold by Westerners, who mistakenly attributed it to China and added to the story. The result is a story that is neither Japanese nor Chinese, and it exemplifies the racist attitude of, “Chinese, Japanese, what’s the difference, they’re all the same.” from Wikipedia
- Though the book’s illustrations are beautifully drawn by Caldecott Medal-winning artist Blair Lent, they do not authentically depict Chinese people, as noted by The Multiculturalist above. Tikki Tikki Tembo’s shoes are actually strikingly similar to traditional Japanese geta footwear, again reinforcing the inaccurate perception that all Asian cultures are the same.