Written and Illustrated by Tim Egan
Houghton Mifflin Company
Tim Egan’s books are funny, in a sharp-comeback, slapstick sort of way, like picture book versions of a Marx Brothers movie, or a Looney Tunes sketch. His characters seem to be from a different era, in both speech and appearance. His art sometimes reminds me of a softer Edward Hopper, with anthropomorphized animals. Perhaps that’s because Friday Night at Hodges’ Cafe takes place in a diner.
“Hodges’ Cafe was busy as usual last Friday night. Everyone was savoring the delicious desserts that the cafe is famous for. Hodges is considered by many to be the finest pastry chef in the city. Too bad his duck is so crazy.”
Who wouldn’t want to keep reading after that opening?
One night—despite the “No Tigers Please” sign on the door— three hungry tigers enter Hodges’ cafe. The duck is the only one brave (er, crazy) enough to stand up to the rude, unwelcome, though very well dressed, customers.
After besting two of the tigers, the duck is grabbed up by the third (and biggest) tiger. They stare into each other’s eyes; Hodges distracts the bully with a chocolate soufflé and the duck escapes into a raspberry tart. It seems things are about to get really crazy.
But when the biggest tiger gets a taste of that magnificent soufflé that he took to the face in the scuffle, he declares it the best he’s ever tasted! The duck replies by telling the tigers to try the lemon meringue. Then he jumps onto the counter, begins dancing, and breaks into song. How’s that for a tension breaker?
The tigers order three pies, and respectfully ask to eat in Hodges “simple yet dignified establishment.”
“All things considered, it turned out to be a fairly nice evening.”
So nice in fact, that Hodges takes the “No Tigers” sign off the door.