cover image Max and Marla

Max and Marla

Alexandra Boiger. Putnam, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-399-17504-6

Boiger (the Tallulah series) nods to the Winter Olympics in this tale of sled-riding friends, her debut as author. Max, a boy, and Marla, a snowy owl, imagine themselves “true Olympians.” In their alpine village—a cluster of cool-blue houses laden with snow—Max and Marla watch a bobsledder on TV, gear up (“Preparation is key”), and tote their sled outside. At first, they “face technical difficulties” when their stuck sled won’t glide. The next day, they wax the runners and step out again, only to be swept into a tree. With each misadventure, they modify their approach. They exchange knit hats for helmets, bundle up in parkas, and (ill-advisedly) tie themselves to their sled with red string. In Boiger’s softly rounded watercolor-and-ink images, Max and Marla’s brick-red outfits stand out against icy blues, lavenders, and grays. The visual and verbal narrative feels at times too spare, yet Boiger excels at closely observed, affectionate details, like Max carrying a snoozing Marla to bed, or the friends stringing donuts on ribbons to serve as Olympic medals. Ages 3–5. Agent: Marcia Wernick, Wernick & Pratt Agency. (Oct.)