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Cumulative tale facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts

In a cumulative tale, sometimes also called a chain tale, action or dialogue repeats and builds up in some way as the tale progresses. With only the sparest of plots, these tales often depend upon repetition and rhythm for their effect, and can require a skilled storyteller to negotiate their tongue-twisting repetitions in performance. The climax is sometimes abrupt and sobering as in "The Gingerbread Man." The device often takes the form of a cumulative song or nursery rhyme. Many cumulative tales feature a series of animals or forces of nature each more powerful than the last.


In the Aarne-Thompson classification system, types 2000–2100 are all cumulative tales, including:

  • Chains Based on Numbers, Objects, Animals, or Names 2000–2020
    How the rich man paid his servant 2010
    The house is burned down 2014
    The goat that would not go home 2015
    Fair Katrinelje and Pif-Paf-Poltrie 2019
  • Chains Involving Death 2021–2024
    The cock and the hen 2021
    An Animal Mourns the Death of a Spouse 2022
  • Chains Involving Eating 2025–2028
    The Fleeing Pancake 2025
    The fat cat 2027
  • Chains Involving Other Events 2029–2075
    The Old Woman and Her Pig 2030
    The Sky Is Falling 2033
    This Is the House That Jack Built 2035
    The Mouse Who Was to Marry the Sun 2031C (Japanese, Indian)
    Pulling up the turnip 2044
    Tales in which animals talk 2075

Other examples of cumulative tales

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Cumulative tale Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.