Max is both frightened and intrigued by Kevin when the latter moves in next door in Rodman Philbrick's Freak the Mighty. Then he sees Kevin standing beneath a small tree in his backyard, angrily whacking it with his crutch and trying to jump up and hit a branch. Max continues to watch as Kevin laboriously pulls a wagon over to the tree, climbs into it, and begins hitting the tree again.
Max figures out that something is stuck in one of the branches, and Kevin really wants to get it down badly. He cannot reach it, even with the wagon, and there is no way he can climb up. By this point, he is, as Max says, literally “hopping mad.”
Max goes next door, reaches up, and retrieves the brightly colored object. He hands the “bird-thing” to Kevin and then listens in wonder as Kevin describes his “ornithopter,” a mechanical bird. Kevin winds up the bird and lets it fly. Max is amazed by the little machine, and Kevin winds it up again and again for nearly an hour. Then Max pulls Kevin in the wagon over to his house to show him his basement room. He remembers Kevin being “happy as can be” and enjoying the wagon ride. This incident begins a strange friendship that changes both boys forever.