The very first time that Max puts Kevin on his shoulders is in chapter 6. It is the Fourth of July, and Max and Kevin have been allowed to go to the festivities without adult supervision. They have a brief run-in with Tony D. and his thugs, but it doesn't turn into a full blown altercation in this chapter. The closing moments of the chapter narrate about the fireworks going off. Kevin and Max are surrounded by people, and Kevin isn't able to see the fireworks as a result. He's simply too short. Without thinking about it, Max scoops up Kevin and puts Kevin on his shoulders. Kevin is ecstatic and gives a cry of excitement, and that tells Max that his decision was an okay decision. Kevin screams out the names of the chemicals working to create all the shapes and colors of the fireworks. The chapter ends as the fireworks display ends.
The following chapter begins moments after the fireworks end, and Kevin comments that it is an amazing perspective of the world to be up so high. As the boys make their way home, Tony D. and his thugs become a real issue this time. Max isn't sure what to do, so he lets Kevin take over. Kevin begins to steer Max with foot inputs and hair tugs, and they successfully evade the thugs long enough for the police to show up. The police ask for the two boys' names, and Kevin, sitting atop Max's shoulders, responds with a fantastic name for who they are:
We’re Freak the Mighty, that’s who we are. We’re nine feet tall, in case you haven’t noticed.