"No one can be lonely who has a book for company." ~ Nelle Reagan

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver - children's book review

Liesl & Po
Author:  Lauren Oliver
Illustrator: Kei Acedera
Published:  2011
Publisher:  Harper Collins Children's Books, a division of Harper Collins Publishers
Pages: 320
ISBN 9780062014511 (trade bdg)
          9780062107398 (international edition)
Genre:  fantasy - middle grade 
Source:  free ebook at www.harpercollinschildrens.com

Track your favourite author on:  www.authortracker.com
Also available as an ebook

Coincidence; mix-ups;
harmless mistakes and switches,
And so a story is born

My review: 
The world has not seen the sun for 1728 days and little Liesl has been locked in the attic for 13 months.  Her father had been ill in the hospital and died three days ago when the story begins.  Liesel's wicked stepmother keeps Liesl locked up, telling her it is unsafe to come out.  Young and naive, Liesl believes...that is...until she meets Po, a shadowy form of a figure, an "it", neither boy nor girl, and its pet Bundle which is neither cat nor dog or perhaps it is both. Po and Bundle are ghosts from the Other Side.  Since her father's death, Liesl has ceased to draw, her grief is to great.  This is what draws Po and Bundle to her.  It is also what draws Will to her. 

Will is a young orphan working in slavitude for the Alchemist.  Beaten and near starvation, he is a prisoner too.  When sent on an errand one evening, he stops to look up at Liesl's window, where she once sat while drawing.  He has seen her there before but tonight she is not to be seen.  This is also the night Will mistakes a box for another at the mortician's and changes the events of his life and Liesl's and countless others.

Liesl & Po is written for middle grade, ages 10 and up, but its whimsical and sweet message and beautiful artistry captures the imagination and attention of the older child and even the adult reader.  Though it is not adult fare, I did enjoy reading it.  I found this story quite charming, particularly when I read the author's note at the end of how her own personal experience with a friend's death left her feeling like she was in a sunless world, all grey and dreary, and somewhat alone, as Liesl and Will felt.  I enjoyed the parallels and how Lauren Oliver pulled it all together in an intense climax.  There is a happy ending.  Would I recommend this book?  Without a doubt, yes! 

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