Liesl & Po

by Lauren Oliver and Kei Acedera

Orphans, magic, alchemy, and ghosts abound in Lauren Oliver’s first venture... read more

Orphans, magic, alchemy, and ghosts abound in Lauren Oliver’s first venture into middle-grade fiction. Liesl’s evil stepmother has kept her locked in the attic for months, during which time her father died. Po, a ghost child with no memory of life before dying, and Bundle, a ghost animal, bring Liesl news of her father from the Other Side (a hopeless limbo): He wants to go home. Meanwhile, Will, apprentice to a cruel alchemist, bungles the delivery of an important magical spell when he inadvertently switches it for Liesl’s father’s ashes. Liesl, determined to bury her father next to her mother’s grave at their old home in the mountains, escapes with Po’s and Bundle’s help, making off with what she thinks are the ashes but in fact is the box filled with powerful magic. Will, on the run from a guard for the Lady Premiere—intended recipient of the magic—eventually meets up with Liesl in a story in which fate is an ever-present player. While the man chasing Will only wants to give him a warm hat, the other adults—nasty through and through—figure out the ashes/magic mix-up and are quickly on the children’s trail with far more sinister intentions. The chase, near misses, and last-minute escapes make for exciting reading while Liesl and Will’s developing friendship, and Po’s and Bundle need to end their aimless wandering, add poignant notes to a story in which all the pieces fall into place like a well-designed puzzle. (Ages 8–12)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2012

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