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Liesl & Po Hardcover – October 4, 2011
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“A wonderfully imaginative, startlingly moving and at times wickedly funny fantasy. With nods to Dahl, Dickens, the Grimms and even Burnett, the author has made something truly original. Acedera’s frequent black-and-white illustrations are a perfect complement. An irresistible read: This book sings.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))
“Classic fairy tale elements weave throughout this spirited, old-fashioned adventure. Invigorating and hopeful, this novel testifies to the power of friendship and generosity to conquer greed and depression.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))
“With her third book, Lauren Oliver (Before I Fall; Delirium) creates another highly original world, this one for middle-grade readers. Oliver introduces orphans Liesl and Will, a touch of magic, some delectable coincidences, and friendship that stretches from the Living Side to the Other Side.” (Shelf Awareness)
“A gorgeous story--timeless and magical.” (Rebecca Stead, Newbery Medal-winning author of When You Reach Me)
“Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver brings much-needed magic to an increasingly neglected age group. It’s books like this, with its classic quest plot, intertwined with lyrical metaphysics, that can set a child up for life.” (The Sunday Telegraph)
“An absolute delight...Although aimed at younger readers, the lightness of touch and the tenderness of the message could make grown men weep.” (Daily Mail (London))
Praise for Before I Fall: “Oliver’s debut novel is raw, emotional, and, at times, beautiful....readers will love Samantha best as she hurtles toward an end as brave as it is heartbreaking.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))
Praise for Before I Fall: “Samantha’s attempts to save her life and right the wrongs she has caused are precisely what will draw readers into this complex story and keep them turning pages until Sam succeeds in living her last day the right way.” (Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA) (starred review))
Praise for Before I Fall: “Oliver, in a pitch-perfect teen voice, explores the power we have to affect the people around us in this intensely believable first novel...This is a compelling book with a powerful message and should not be missed.” (ALA Booklist)
Praise for Before I Fall: “This story races forward, twisting in a new direction every few pages, its characters spinning my emotions from affection to frustration, anger to compassion. You’ll have no choice but to tear through this book!” (Jay Asher, author of the New York Times bestseller Thirteen Reasons Why)
From the Back Cover
Liesl lives in a tiny attic bedroom, locked away by her cruel stepmother. Her only friends are the shadows and the mice—until one night a ghost appears from the darkness. It is Po, who comes from the Other Side. Both Liesl and Po are lonely, but together they are less alone.
That same night, an alchemist's apprentice, Will, bungles an important delivery. He accidentally switches a box containing the most powerful magic in the world with one containing something decidedly less remarkable
Will's mistake has tremendous consequences for Liesl and Po, and it draws the three of them together on an extraordinary journey.
From New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver comes a luminous and magnificent novel that glows with rare magic, ghostly wonders, and a true friendship that lights even the darkest of places.
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So I bought it and decided to read it with my 7-year-old daughter. We absolutely loved it! She really is a very poetic writer, but it wasn't so academic as to go over my daughter's head. It's just beautiful writing. Proof that children's books do not need to be dumbed down to be enjoyable to kids. The plot was complex enough to remain interesting, but again, was also simple enough to be age appropriate. I could see where it was going from early on, but my daughter couldn't, and the ride to the conclusion was very enjoyable anyway. I was often tempted to read ahead by myself after my daughter went to bed (but I didn't cheat). I intend to buy a hard copy for my daughter to keep in her collection of favorites that she rereads before she goes to bed. For the record, my daughter is actually very sensitive and this was not at all too dark for her as was suggested by another reviewer.
I know Lauren Oliver is trying to write more YA and adult material, but I honestly think she should stick with this age group. This is easily the best book of hers that I have read so far, and it appears to be the best reviewed, obviously for a reason. I would highly recommend this book if this is the kind of story you and/or your kids would like.
It was beautifully paced, the writing was great, all the characters were developed. The main characters are Liesl (a strong 11 year old girl), Will (a brave young boy), and Po (a genderless ghost with his cute cat-dog ghost companion named Bundle). The other characters also got their moments, in fact several of them got their POV and normally that might make it confusing for me but that wasn't the case here, instead it sucked me into the story even more!
I didn't expect to get so much out of a middle grade book, it made me feel, sucked me in, gave me tears and even made me think on several occasions. I was pleasantly surprised!
This story is a truly magical adventure and I highly recommend it!
Liesl hasn't left the attic since her father's death. Her stepmother makes her stay there to keep her safe. Safe from what, Liesl doesn't know. Will is the orphaned assistant of a mean and nasty alchemist. His only highlight in running the alchemist's errands throughout the middle of the night is seeing the girl in the window of the attic. That girl is Liesl. She doesn't know he is out there, but he can't stop thinking about her. He thinks about her so much that he accidentally takes the wrong box to the Lady Premiere. He is supposed to bring her a box of the darkest and strongest magic the alchemist has every made, the same magic that has taken away the sun for over 1700 days, but instead he grabs the box of Liesl's father's ashes. The box of magic is inadvertently delivered to Liesl's stepmom instead of the ashes.
When Po, a ghost boy, comes to visit Liesl in the attic, he helps her connect to her father. There she learns her father wants his ashes brought to their old house where her mother is buried so he can finally cross over and be at peace. Po helps Liesl escape the attic so he can get her to the old house. Along the way, a series of mistakes, switches, misunderstandings, and plain old silliness leads to an adventure where Will, Po, and Liesl try to put her father to rest while everyone else in the countryside is out looking for them. What no one knows is that the magic box might be more powerful than any of them could imagine, but love is more powerful.
Some people might disagree, but I think you can have some darkness to a middle reader, especially if there is an ending where everything works out for the better. I think the Grimm's fairy tales are too dark even for my 30 year old self, of course! But this book had just enough dark and just enough softness to balance it out. You want Will and Liesl to make it to their destination, but all the mix-ups and silliness throughout the story keeps you hanging on until the last page thinking, "What could possibly happen NOW?!" I admit the story was a little hard to get into at first, and some key details weren't revealed until 1/3 of the book had passed. That, sadly, might make it too hard for the reader, especially a younger reader, to get into the book, at which point they would miss this exciting little gem!
As a middle reader, there isn't any sexual content, but there is some death and murder and Liesl is certainly abused by her stepmother. Nothing is too graphic or overdone, so the happy coincidences will balance those out fairly well. It is one of those fun stories where the circumstances change just by chance over and over again, helping the main characters out in ways they couldn't possibly know. It is a great way to make the reader feel most connected to the story- they know more than the characters do! I think this is a fun little ghost story, where the ghosts aren't what you should be afraid of!