A much-anticipated, carefully planned outing turns into what seems to be a disaster for two close friends.
Max is depicted as a brown-haired, sweet-faced white child, big enough to ride a two-wheel bike, while Marla looks like a small gray-and-white barn owl. Boiger’s partly Photoshopped ink-and-watercolor art depicts interior moments and landscapes in gentle hues of green, blue, and gray. The pair plans a first-of-spring outing with a picnic: potato salad, cheese and baguette, “and Grandma’s special cake: a gugelhupf”—mixed and baked by Max with some extra breaking of eggs. Max pedals the bike, and Marla, sporting a wide-brimmed hat, perches in the basket—everything’s off to a good start. When Max goes to gather flowers and Marla falls asleep, however, a scurry of squirrels help themselves to the picnic. Though Max is upset, perhaps even angry, readers are given room to interpret and understand how each character feels: “Marla and Max don’t feel like staying any longer. They don’t even want to look at each other.” Even very young children will recognize the way that expectations can rush out in front of an experience and contribute to disappointment. A nighttime picnic on the bedroom floor is cozy and friendly—and a saving moment for the friendship.
Simple and emotionally resonant. (Picture book. 2-6)