Reimaging a fanciful fable
Pirican Pic and Pirican Mor is a retelling of a Scottish folktale, a charming story about sharing, quarrels and forgiveness that kids are sure to enjoy. The title refers to the names of two boys who are at first happily engaged in a partnership: one is perched high in a tree picking walnuts, while the other is on the ground, cracking the nuts open and popping them in his mouth. All goes well until one comes down from the tree and realizes the other has eaten all of the nuts.
Thus begins a cumulative rhyme perfect for reading aloud in the manner of "The House that Jack Built." This rhyme begins with Pirican Mor announcing: "I need a stick both hard and straight/To whack and thwack poor Pirican Pic/Who ate all of my walnuts!" Each time Pirican Mor tries to accomplish one task, he is diverted and sent on yet another. For instance, he tells the tree he needs a stick, and the tree replies that he needs an axe. Once he finds an axe, however, he is told he needs a sharpening stone, and so on. Pirican Mor doggedly pursues each and every goal that comes his way, and young readers will no doubt enjoy the building anticipation of his eventual mission: namely, the whacking and thwacking. But if, like me, you fret about the prospect of violence, lay your fears to rest. Happily, it never comes to pass. Yes, Pirican Mor eventually overcomes his obstacles and returns to the scene with his stick, ready to reap revenge. Pirican Pic, however, has long since departed, but a pile of cracked walnuts sits ready to be eaten. This little snack diverts Pirican Mor from his mission, and all ends well.
Lupton's ongoing rhyme is enlivened by a variety of typefaces, in addition to Yumi Heo's snazzy oil illustrations, which are done in a primitive, yet contemporary two-dimensional style. Her muted colors and innovative perspectives make for eye-appealing action on every page. Pirican Pic and Pirican Mor are indeed a lively pair, a duo that will bring smiles to young readers time after time.