By, Donna M. Monnig
Kids are one thing in life that I think I know something about – you might even say that I’m an expert on the subject… after all I was once a kid myself! (What more qualification should I need?) I was also an aunt before I was born and I currently have nieces and nephews numbering greater than one dozen but less than two dozen. The oldest is older than me (obviously) and the current youngest was born today… or yesterday seeing as it’s after midnight. (Happy Birthday kiddo!) So, considering all of the babysitting hours I’ve logged over the years, all of the baby showers, birthday parties, and everything else kid related, you would reasonably assume that I was more than a little familiar with children’s literature (aka kids books), right? So why is it that I didn’t discover what is now one of my favorite children’s books until I was in college?
During the course of a Children’s Theater class I discovered the timeless classic, Tikki Tikki Tembo, by, Arlene Mosel. One might wonder how a book that is over 40 years old, has more than a million copies in print, received the Horn Book Award, and is based off of an old folktale could’ve escaped my notice… I wonder that myself, so if you come up with an answer please inform me of what it is! I still remember hearing that great big long name at the beginning of the story for the first time: Tikki tikki tembo-no sa rembo-chari bari ruchi-pip peri pembo, which of course means, “the most wonderful thing in the whole wide world!” Wouldn’t you have hated having to learn to spell that name in school?
Granted, part of the reason I fell in love with this story is most likely due to the masterful way in which one of my classmates narrated the tale; however, Tikki Tikki Tembo is an adorable story full of good advice and lessons learned. I love to read the book as well as share it with my numerous nieces and nephews. They, like me, had never heard of Tikki tikki tembo either. Who knew you could actually learn such important things in college?
“Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children—” —Deuteronomy 4:9
What about you? Have you read Tikki Tikki Tembo? What do you or your kids think about it?