<b>They're off to find the palace</b>You can take Miles Wednesday out of the circus, but you can't take the circus out of Miles Wednesday. That's the premise behind Jon Berkeley's fanciful new novel for middle grade readers, <b>The Palace of Laughter</b>, the first entry in a planned series titled The Wednesday Tales. Miles lives in an oversized barrel with his only family, a stuffed bear named Tangerine. His life is focused on worrying about his next meal until the Circus Oscuro comes to town. A visiting Bengal tiger claims he can smell the circus on Miles, but Miles knows that's impossible. He was orphaned as a baby and confined to the Pinchbucket House, the town orphanage, before running away (four times).
Miles is determined to see the circus for himself and sneaks in. There he meets Little, a girl who is over 400 years old, and the Null, a beast feared by everyone, including the ringmaster, the Great Cortado.
After Miles helps Little escape, he discovers that there is a dark secret behind the Circus Oscuro, and with help from Little and the Tiger he is on his way to the Palace of Laughter where nobody comes out the same way they went in. As Miles hurries to save the town from the devastating effects of the Palace, he learns that perhaps he is part circus, after all.
Berkeley's full cast of characters is delightful and well drawn, and the rich illustrations by Brandon Dorman further illuminate Miles' world. Readers will keep turning the pages as Berkeley weaves his tale with a distinct, humorous voice and suspenseful plot. <b>The Palace of Laughter</b> is a tale of friendship and family, and the lengths to which one little boy will go to retain both. <i>Tracy Marchini works at a literary agency in Manhattan.</i>