Why was Freak's Christmas gift of the pyramid-shaped box and handwritten dictionary so important to Max?
Another reason Freak's Christmas gift was so important to Max was because it was tailored to accommodate Max's learning challenges.
We first encounter Max's struggle with reading in Chapter Eight. In that chapter, Freak used a word Max had never heard before. That word was "archetype." Freak suggested that Max look up the word in his dictionary, but Max displayed little enthusiasm for doing so. First, Max didn't know how the word was spelled, so this made it difficult for him to identify the word in the dictionary. The other reason Max found reading a challenge was because he found it difficult to distinguish between certain letters. For example, the letter "R" looked like a backward "E" to him. This propensity to look at letters differently made reading a challenge to Max. Today, we would call Max's learning disability a form of dyslexia.
Also, because he found reading difficult, Max didn't possess as extensive a vocabulary as Freak did. So, Max had difficulty understanding the definition of "archetype" that fitted Freak's meaning about the dragon. During the span of their friendship, Freak came to understand his friend very well. He knew how much Max hated to use the dictionary and how humiliated his friend felt about his reading disability.
This is the main reason Freak took such trouble with his gift. Freak used the specially designed pyramid-shaped box and dictionary to symbolize his regard and acceptance of Max. If we look at the first words of the dictionary, we can see that Freak went to great lengths to make the dictionary accessible to Max: the definitions were written in easy-to-understand language and there were funny, onomatopoeic sounds that Max might find humorous. For example, Freak called an aardvark "a silly looking creature that eats ants," and he defined the word "aargh" as the word "the aardvark says when it eats ants." Most importantly, Freak defined the word "dictionary" as a "source of knowledge, fun, and rude jokes."
Basically, Freak made the dictionary a less intimidating book to Max. This is part of the reason the gift meant so much to Max. The gift not only conveyed Freak's regard for Max, it also conveyed his confidence in Max's ability to transcend his learning challenges.
It's important to Max because the gift represents the first real gift that he has ever received from someone that he considers a true friend. It is also important because Freak spent a lot time on the gift in order to personalize it for Max. Freak didn't go to a store and buy something for Max. Freak made him a very personalized gift. The box itself was something that Freak made, and it was quite intricate with directions on how to open it and everything. "You can see where he cut out pieces of cardboard and taped them all together, and written on the sides of them were these little signs and arrows, thought Max."
Inside the box was a personal dictionary to Max that contained Freak's favorite words, in alphabetical order. The dictionary definitions were Freak's own. "What I did is take all my favorite words and put them in alphabetical order." It's an incredibly thoughtful gift because Freak knows that Max doesn't like to look up words in front of people. It makes him feel stupid. Now Max can look up the words in private and at his own pace. It's also a very encouraging gift, because it shows that Freak believes that Max can continue to learn and improve himself.