The illustrations are what struck me first about Edwina Wyatt’s hardback picture book In the Evening. Gaye Chapman’s fine line drawings give the book an enchanting, whimsical feel, producing a sense of pastel-hued, cold evening light that sparkles with snowflakes, delicate clouds and showers.
The story is about an unlikely friendship that develops between two squirrels- Oscar, who is very shy and Charlie, a bold, outgoing little fellow.
In the evening, as shoes shriek in hallways, pots and pans bubble and curtains are drawn, Oscar tends to huddle inside at his window, watching the sights and listening to the sounds outside. Charlie, though, spends a lot of time in the open air, sometimes on his verandah and sometimes swinging in his tree, all the time nodding and waving until night comes.
When, at his window one evening, Oscar sees Charlie waving to him, his heart thumps. He doesn’t know what to do. So he ignores Charlie. Over several evenings, Charlie continues to try to start up a friendship with his shy neighbour, but Oscar does all sorts of things to avoid him.
Finally, Oscar shouts at Charlie to leave him alone and retreats further into his house so that Charlie can’t see him.
Charlie stays away, in fact he stays inside and can no longer be seen in his tree waving. Before long, though, shy Oscar misses his neighbour. He listens and waits…to no avail.
It is now up to Oscar. At last he gathers his courage, leaves his house and knocks on Charlie’s door…whereupon a wonderful friendship begins.
This is a fine book, gently demonstrating that new horizons can open up if we face fears and meet people halfway. The enchanting story shows young readers that friendship can develop between anyone, even if there are some rocky times…but for friendship to blossom it needs us to reach out.