PIcture books where protagonist keeps making bigger/more extreme Xs
February 5, 2021 12:17 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for examples of picture books where the basic premise is that a character keeps making (I guess finding/receiving/doing is ok) a more and more extreme version of [SOME THING]. Early versions of the thing might be normal or a little bigger/better/more extravagant that typical, but by the end it's madness! Like let's say a character makes a bigger and bigger sandcastle, starting from a single bucket tower and ending with a real royal palace with a moat and a dragon and cannons and haunted portraits.

As with my previous questions in this genre, since I can't go to the library and get the books, please feel free to describe as much about the book/setup as you remember.

Oh, and unlike my previous questions in this genre, i can think of no examples of books in this trope. Maybe I made up this trope myself, but it seems unlikely. The closest I can think of is the book "Higher, Higher" by Leslie Patricelli (a girl on a swing asks ot go higher and higher til she's over the trees...over the buildings...in the sky.. in orbit) or "Faster, Faster" also by Leslie Patricelli (riding on dad's shoulders a kid tells him to go faster and faster til he's running like a bunny,...a cheetah, etc.). But I really want books where there is an actual object becoming more extreme ideally.
posted by If only I had a penguin... to Grab Bag (24 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins. The hats keep getting more elaborate.
posted by shadygrove at 12:22 PM on February 5, 2021 [10 favorites]

There is The Wuggie Norple Story by Daniel Pinkwater where Wuggie Norple grows each day and is bigger than a successive number of other different animals (A bulldog named Freckleface Chilibean, a razorback hog called Papercup Mixmaster, the horse Exploding Poptart, and Laughing Gas Alligator the elephant).
posted by machine at 12:23 PM on February 5, 2021 [4 favorites]

And to Think that I Saw it on Mulberry Street almost fits this trope — if you consider the kid’s story as the thing that keeps being made more elaborate.
posted by mekily at 12:25 PM on February 5, 2021 [1 favorite]

Also Dr. Seuss, his first book “And to think that I saw it on Mulberry Street.” Also, The Cat in the Hat qualifies.
posted by Melismata at 12:27 PM on February 5, 2021

I'm beginning to sense an authorial theme, but The Butter Battle Book depicts an arms race with ever-more elaborate wacky weapons being created.
posted by subocoyne at 12:28 PM on February 5, 2021 [2 favorites]

Also by Dr. Seuss, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, Yertle the Turtle, and Scrambled Eggs Super.
posted by doctord at 12:29 PM on February 5, 2021 [1 favorite]

Stuck by Oliver Jeffers is close; the premise is a kid throws something small in a tree, and then progressively bigger and bigger things (a whale, a house, etc) in an attempt to get the other things out. My kids found it pretty hilarious.
posted by forza at 12:35 PM on February 5, 2021 [4 favorites]

The Trouble With Dad By Babette Cole features steadily escalating robot construction by the Dad in question. I seem to recall they get quite large and complex.
posted by Happy Dave at 12:39 PM on February 5, 2021 [1 favorite]

Not sure these are exactly right but they’re all kid-book crescendos, with accretions of stuff leading to madness:

Robert N. Munsch & Hélène Desputeaux, Purple, Green and Yellow (increasingly indelible markers -> chaos)

Jean-Luc Fromental & Joëlle Jolivet, 365 Penguins (eponysterical & mysterious arrival of one penguin per day -> chaos)

I.C. Springman & Brian Lies, More (magpie’s unbridled acquisitiveness -> chaos)
posted by miles per flower at 12:48 PM on February 5, 2021

There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly ... and progressively bigger things.
posted by evilmomlady at 12:48 PM on February 5, 2021 [2 favorites]

A Fish Out of Water has a boy's pet goldfish get bigger and bigger and into larger and larger bodies of water until the pet shop owner comes along to miraculously shrink him back to bowl-size.
posted by PussKillian at 1:00 PM on February 5, 2021 [2 favorites]

Millions of Cats, with the repeating phrase "Hundreds of cats, thousands of cats! Millions and billions and trillions of cats!". Although, to be fair, they start at the beginning with the giant number of cats and end up with one, so not quite what you're after, but it does cover things getting more and more extreme.

There's also the Grimm story "The Magic Porridge Pot" where the pot overflows - Sorcerers Apprentice style - and floods the town. I haven't linked to a book because there's so many of them.
posted by ninazer0 at 1:09 PM on February 5, 2021 [4 favorites]

How about The Duchess Bakes a Cake?
posted by fedward at 1:09 PM on February 5, 2021

“how to”, by Randall Munroe, sort of does this (for grown-ups).

There are a bunch of examples for how to do something (scaled up to a ludicrous level), like orders of magnitude of more-powerful hair dryers in a box, or how to get energy from faults or escalators.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 1:15 PM on February 5, 2021

My kids love Daddy’s Sandwich - girl decides to make a sandwich with everything her daddy loves in it, takes “everything” a bit too literally.
posted by cardinalandcrow at 1:40 PM on February 5, 2021

If I remember Benjamin's 365 Birthdays correctly, Benjamin so loves unwrapping birthday presents that he starts wrapping up household objects and giving them to himself over the course of the following year. I have a recollection that towards the end of the year he wraps up his entire house.
posted by Johnny Assay at 2:13 PM on February 5, 2021

The last part of Press Here is something like that. The child/reader claps and claps, and the dots grow bigger over 5-6 pages, way bigger than you’d think, to where not even one fits on the page. I always had to do that part 3 or 4 times over while my son laughed hysterically. Also fun: try to “dissuade” them from clapping so as not to make a big mess of the book.
posted by pocams at 2:30 PM on February 5, 2021

I came here to highly recommend "The Monster at the End of This Book" (so good!) but I see someone beat me to it. The only other one that pops into mind as soooort of following this would be Strega Nona, but that might be pushing it.
posted by carlypennylane at 2:37 PM on February 5, 2021 [2 favorites]

In Mrs Armitrage on Wheels, she adds more and more to her bicycle until it is completely over the top. As the description says, she starts to run into trouble when she adds the mast and the sail. One of my favorites as a kid.
posted by moogs at 2:57 PM on February 5, 2021 [3 favorites]

This question made me remember Leo Lionni's book about a snail who gets a bigger and bigger and more elaborate shell...
posted by daisyace at 3:32 PM on February 5, 2021

Maybe not exactly, but a variation on your theme:

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Hippos Go Berserk by Sandra Boynton
posted by ChristineSings at 4:40 PM on February 5, 2021

And in an not exactly for kids. and quite disturbing for adults: George Saunders's The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil where the despotism of PHIL becomes larger and larger
posted by scruss at 6:33 PM on February 5, 2021

Harold and the Purple Crayon.
posted by sundrop at 6:31 AM on February 6, 2021

The Big Orange Splot by Daniel Pinkwater starts out with ordinary houses. Then they start decorating them in more and more elaborate ways. They end up living in fantastic creations that remind me a bit of parade floats.
posted by Margalo Epps at 6:05 PM on March 22, 2021

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