I’m convinced that as an author Lauren Oliver is one of the best of the best. No matter the genre, she is a powerful storyteller. Liesl And Po, a story Oliver says is very close to her heart, is Oliver’s middle grade debut. It is a magical read in which ghosts play a prominent role and titular character Liesl must go on a journey and set her father’s ashes to rights.
Perhaps I should back up and set the scene and the plot of Liesl And Po by Lauren Oliver for you. Liesl’s father has recently died. An orphan, Liesl lives in the attic of her evil stepmother’s home leading a lonely life with only mice for company. One day a ghost named Po that is neither girl nor boy appears to Liesl. Po has a pet ghost that is neither dog nor cat named Bundle who is my favorite EVER SHOUTOUT ILY BUNDLE ILY! Coinciding with Liesl’s story is that of Will, an orphan who is apprenticed to a wicked alchemist. Will commits a horrible mix up. The two characters and their stories convene in a fantastic manner, as they both embark on a life changing journey.
I want to cuddle the characters of Liesl And Po by Lauren Oliver close to my heart and never let anything bad happen to them EVER. Both Will and Liesl have been through more than a child should endure. Liesl, at least, has a coping mechanism. You see, she bides her time by drawing. Each illustration in Liesl And Po was created by Kei Acedera and is from ‘Liesl’s sketchpad.’ I thought the art was moving and adding kid appeal as well as another dimension to Liesl’s character.
Although I did not sob or anything, I found Liesl And Po by Lauren Oliver to be very moving. Sometimes bad things happen to good people and we just have to do our best to put wrongs to rights. Like Liesl, we may find friends in unexpected places. I think the way the entire plot and elements converge and wrap up is touching and definitely not to be missed.
Disclosure: Received for review at BEA 2011.