The Palace of Laughter: The Wednesday Tales #1

Book review by
Terreece Clarke, Common Sense Media
The Palace of Laughter: The Wednesday Tales #1 Book Poster Image
Spooky circus tale is great for reluctant readers.

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 1 review

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

The main characters display loyalty, friendship, love, and bravery despite odd, scary, and dangerous circumstances.


A boy is almost crushed to death by a yeti. A wild animal eats several sheep. A man threatens a child with a sword. A girl is tied up and held captive in a railroad car. Orphaned boys fight with large bones as a gang initiation. Rival gangs fight, hold each other captive, and injure each other during a game. Scary situations including mind control, a tiger that may or may not eat people, as well as adults in charge of an orphanage boxing children's ears.


Mild name calling: "stupid," "freak," "snake," etc.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

An older child smokes a cigar. Adults and children drink elderberry wine.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that if your kids are already afraid of clowns, this book isn't going to help. There is a very creepy circus, complete with odd clowns. Other scary situations include kidnapping, hypnotism, and addiction to a mysterious substance. Parents will love the story's emphasis on friendship, loyalty, and family, but there are also plenty of mischievous adults whose actions put children in danger.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 7-year-old Written byrks_ajs May 27, 2013

Fun adventure

The assessment is accurate ("What parents need to know"). Creepy clowns, friendship, loyalty and fantasy. We liked the kids' friendship with th... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old May 17, 2009

What's the story?

Miles Wednesday was the only person to witness the odd Circus Obscuro roll into town in the dead of night. With the circus comes an adventure Miles never could have imagined. An adventure with a tiger, angels, a yeti, and scary clowns, among other curios. Miles experiences plenty of close shaves as he tries desperately to reach the Palace of Laughter and save two friends from a terrible fate. Will he make it in time?

Is it any good?

Jon Berkeley's THE PALACE OF LAUGHTER is a wonderful fantasy adventure. The story motors along at a pretty good pace and throws in enough fright and wild situations to keep even the most reluctant reader interested.

Clocking in at almost 500 pages this novel's a long one for middle graders, but Miles Wednesday's adventures are so out there that readers will quickly forget about the length and settle in for a good ride. A weird circus, creepy clowns, and a Palace of Laughter everyone is afraid to visit would be enough for most fantasies. Berkeley goes one step further and adds in a couple of lost angels and a yeti. Chock full of nuttiness and a hilarious ending, kids seeking to movie on beyond Harry Potter have found a good candidate in this series.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk friendship and family. How did Miles show Little he was a true friend? How did he win Silverpoint's loyalty? What makes a family?

Book details

Top advice and articles

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate