About the Holiday
Is it a perfect day to get outside? Then why not pack up lunch, a blanket, and the kids and have a picnic?! Spending time and having fun at a park, on the beach, or even in your own backyard is what summer’s all about! Memories are made, even if things don’t always work out as planned—as you’ll see in today’s book.
Max and Marla Are Having a Picnic
By Alexandra Boiger
Max and Marla are waiting for a perfect day to have a picnic. Today is going to be rainy, but tomorrow promises to be warm and sunny. Max and Marla jump for joy. It’s their tradition to “celebrate the beginning of spring with a picnic extraordinaire down by the lake.” They go to the kitchen to start preparing the homemade feast they will pack along, including “Grandma’s special cake: a gugelhupf.” Marla wants to be helpful, but…oh, dear! Still, everything is ready just in the nick of time.
Max peddles down the road while Marla, wearing her best hat, rides in the bike’s basket. They stop in a beautiful spot where the river and mountain meet. When they get hungry, Max begins to unpack the picnic basket. There’s just one thing missing, so Max goes to fetch it. While Marla waits—and naps—squirrels come sniffing—and nibbling—around. They can’t believe how “this day is perfect!”
Finally, Max comes back with a big bouquet of wildflowers, but they scatter to the wind when Max sees that Marla has already started eating. It doesn’t take Max long to notice the squirrels ransacking the picnic basket. “‘LOOK! There are food thieves at work!’” Max shouts. Marla and Max look at each other—but just for a moment. “Marla and Max don’t feel like staying any longer. They don’t even want to look at each other. They pack everything up and ride away. This time Marla rides in back.
At home, Max and Marla go their separate ways. “This was not a good day.” Later, when getting ready for bed, Max thinks about how much Marla loves to be read to and have her beak brushed. Marla must be tired and hungry, Max thinks. Max has an idea and creeps downstairs and out into the yard to pick the blue flowers that grow along the walk. Max goes back inside and gives them to Marla along with a hug. Then, in the light of the refrigerator, the two best friends pack up the picnic basket again and head to the living room. There, they have “the best picnic ever! it’s cozy, it’s warm, and it is heavenly scrumptious.
Alexandra Boiger’s cuter-than-cute best friends navigate the ups and downs of expectations and disappointment in this tender, friendship-affirming story. Boiger’s excellent storytelling sweeps young readers into the promise of a “perfect” day, allowing them also to feel Max and Marla’s sadness when things don’t work out as planned. Honest descriptions of these two friends’ emotions and actions when returning home make their reconciliation all the more heartening.
Many twists and turns, thoughtful characters, and a cleverly included line about a perfect day for the squirrels, give readers and adults much to talk about while enjoying this second adventure with Max and Marla. With no pronouns used and gender-neutral clothing, hair, and even name, the story is universal for all children. Boiger’s warm and humorous scenes at home and sun-drenched images of the perfect picnic spot will charm young readers as they’re invited along on this memorable day.
Ages 3 – 6
G. P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 2018 | ISBN 978-0399175053
Discover more about Alexandra Boiger, her books, and her art on her website.
International Picnic Day Activity
Picnic Basket Match-up Puzzle
Can you find the matching pairs in this printable Picnic Basket Match-up Puzzle?
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Picture Book Review