Thursday, October 17, 2019

The Palace of Laughter: The Wednesday Tales No. 1


by Jon Berkeley

Grade 4-7–When the mysterious Circus Oscuro arrives in the dead of night, Miles Wednesday, a runaway orphan living in a barrel, is the only person in the town of Larde to witness the event. Later that same night, he is approached by a tiger who claims he can smell the circus in Miles. Thus begins a chain of events that introduces the boy to a winged waif named Little, a captive of the circus’s sinister ringmaster.

Upon Little’s escape, the two set out to rescue her friend from the Palace of Laughter, which seems to be far more dangerous and horrible than the name implies. Berkeley’s first foray into writing is mostly successful; the story is filled with captivating and ingenious descriptive passages.

While the author’s habit of introducing Miles at the beginning of nearly every chapter (with definitions such as clean-shirted and cat-surrounded and dawn-chilled and hungry) does tend to get stale, the lively plot and colorful supporting cast are enough to hold readers’ attention.

Try displaying this book alongside classic whimsical tales such as Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth (Knopf, 1961) or the work of Roald Dahl to create interest.–Christi Voth, Parker Library, CO

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. –This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

By Jon Berkeley.

Illustrated by Brandon Dorman.