Hugh Lupton, , illus. by Yumi Heo. . Barefoot, $16.99 (37pp) ISBN 978-1-84148-070-1

A Scottish folktale inspires this cumbersome picture book about the convoluted method one boy chooses to settle a dispute. Boys Pirican Pic and Pirican Mor team up to gather walnuts from a nearby tree, but things quickly go awry. Pirican Mor climbs up and tosses the nuts down to his partner. He then discovers, upon his descent, that Pirican Pic has gobbled up all the sweet nutmeats. An angry Pirican Mor vows to "find a stick and whack and thwack you for that." The search for a stick grows complicated: the tree demands, "First you must find an axe with which to cut me," the axe requires a sharpening stone, etc. When Pirican Mor finally returns to the scene of the crime, he finds a pile of walnuts waiting for him. Lupton's (The Story Tree) cumulative refrain may pay homage to a storytelling tradition ("I need an axe of heavy weight,/ To cut the stick both hard and straight/ To whack and thwack poor Pirican Pic/ Who ate all of my walnuts!"), but in this case it proves tedious. Young readers may puzzle through some of the plot turns, including the need to rub butter into a dog's feet. Heo's (Henry's First Moon Birthday) kicky oil compositions depict a busy rustic setting, from barnyards teeming with crops and livestock to the checkered interior of a farmhouse, but they fail to buoy this leaden outing. Ages 6-8. (Feb.)