Scholastic Video Collection: Tikki Tikki Tembo

Movie review by
Sarah Wenk, Common Sense Media
Scholastic Video Collection: Tikki Tikki Tembo Movie Poster Image
Stories are charming, but some iffy representations.
  • NR
  • 2005
  • 52 minutes

Parents say

age 3+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

"Tikki TIkki Tembo" purports to be a retelling of a Chinese folktale, but it's not. Many have criticized the book as a stereotypical, unflattering depiction of allegedly Chinese culture.  

Positive Role Models & Representations

Since the main character's name in "Tikki Tikki Tembo" contains no actual Chinese words, it perpetuates a stereotype that Chinese names are made up of nonsensical syllables. The story also misrepresents what the name Chang means.

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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that these animated versions of children's books are about as close to reading as you can get without a book. The stories are simple, and the animation is nicely done but not overpowering. Families can watch together and "read" the stories using the "read along" feature on the extras menu. "Tikki Tikki Tembo," based on a book originally published in 1968, is framed as the retelling of an old Chinese folktale, but it's not. In fact, it appears to be based on a Japanese story called "Jugemu." Many have criticized the story as a stereotypical, unflattering depiction of allegedly Chinese culture.  

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 3-year-old Written bylisas3575 November 7, 2009
Gentle retelling of favorite stories from my childhood. It's fun to share them with my little one. The animation is static, FYI.
Parent Written bypkbos April 9, 2008

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What's the story?

SCHOLASTIC VIDEO COLLECTION: TIKKI TIKKI TEMBO features three unique stories. Set in China, "Tikki Tikki Tembo" centers on a boy whose parents gave him a name that ends up causing him a bit of trouble. In "The Tender Tale of Cinderella Penguin," every character, from the fairy godmother to the mice, are penguins. And a hippo pleads with the god of Everything and Everywhere for permission to live in the cool water instead of the hot land in "Hot Hippo."

Is it any good?

Watching these charming animations is like being read to. The best story is one with no words at all -- "The Tender Tale of Cinderella Penguin" is full of funny details (a unicorn tapestry on the wall features a penguin with a long horn) and wonderful animation. "Hot Hippo" is another outstanding offering. "Tikki Tikki Tembo" has a very memorable rhyme and demonstrates positive sibling and positive community relationships, but its inaccurate portrayal of Chinese people, culture, and language is problematic.

Two bonus stories aren't as well done as the first three -- the version of "Little Red Riding Hood" here isn't anything special, and a West African folklore story about Anansi isn't well-animated. But all of the stories here will encourage discussion, making them a solid choice for families to watch together.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how these stories compare to the books they're based on. Which do you prefer, and why?

  • Talk about the inaccurate portrayal of Chinese people and culture in "Tikki Tikki Tembo." How does it demonstrate stereotyping? Why are stereotypes harmful?

  • What other stories would you like to see animated?

  • "The Tender Tale of Cinderella Penguin" has no words. How does it tell its story in such an entertaining way?

Movie details

  • In theaters: June 12, 2005
  • On DVD or streaming: June 26, 2005
  • Cast: Karma Wilson
  • Director: Syd Hoff
  • Studio: Scholastic
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Run time: 52 minutes
  • MPAA rating: NR
  • MPAA explanation: not rated
  • Last updated: June 25, 2020

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