cover image Max and Marla Are Having a Picnic

Max and Marla Are Having a Picnic

Alexandra Boiger. Putnam, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-399-17505-3

In the second gentle outing featuring Max (a child with a mass of red hair) and Marla (a white owl), the two spend the day picnicking in the mountainous meadowland near their home. As Max picks wildflowers for Marla (and Marla takes a nap on their blanket), readers will observe squirrels descending on the picnic to feast on the cake, fruit, and bread. Max sees the squirrels, and the day seems ruined: “Marla and Max don’t feel like staying any longer. They don’t even want to look at each other.” At home, the bad feelings linger, until Max—dressed in footed pajamas—makes a conciliatory gesture and the two enjoy an indoor picnic. Boiger’s watercolor scenes are filled with small, endearing details that suggest a world in miniature. With subtle emotion, she expresses the negative feelings that can stew between friends following a disappointment. The absence of any adults—or anyone else, for that matter—gives these two characters a sweetly appealing independence. Ages 3–5. Agent: Marcia Wernick, Wernick & Pratt Agency. (Mar.)