Monday, November 21, 2011


I love it when a book lives up to the hype. LIESL AND PO, by Lauren Oliver, had a lot of hype to live up to. Let's take a look, shall we?

"With nods to Dahl, Dickens, the Grimms, and even Burnett, the author has made something truly original."
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Classic fairy tale elements weave throughout this spirited, old-fashioned adventure. [Liesl & Po] 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 FallDelirium) creates another highly original world, this one for middle-grade readers."
Shelf Awareness


Liesl’s cruel stepmother, Augusta, keeps her locked in her attic bedroom. Lonely and grieving for her recently deceased father, Liesl is surprised one evening by Po, a ghost who suddenly materializes in her room. The two become fast friends, and it is because of Po that Liesl is able to escape from her attic room and embark on a journey to bury her father’s ashes beside those of her mother. However, because of a mix-up at the undertaker’s, the box that Liesl carries does not contain her father’s ashes. Instead, it contains the most powerful magic in the world. And the alchemist who created that magic desperately wants it back.

I'll be disappointed if this one doesn't win the Newbery. It was that good.

Instead of spoiling the story, I'm going to say a few things about the author's note (which totally made me cry). Lauren Oliver wrote the book after the death of her best friend, and she talks about how the world felt "gray and murky, much like the world Liesl inhabits at the start of the story." She realized, after writing the story, that Liesl's journey was her own. This resonated with me, as it will probably resonate with anyone who has ever lost someone they love.

Beautiful, beautiful story. It reminded me of Frances Hodgson Burnett's A LITTLE PRINCESS, and yet the story line is completely different.

If you'd like to read about more Marvelous Middle Grades, the following people would love to oblige you: 

Shannon Whitney Messenger (our founding mother)
Have a Marvelous Monday!   


  1. I'm a huge fan of Lauren Oliver and really enjoyed this. Great choice for a Marvelous Middle Grade review.

  2. You know...I agree on the Newberry, or at least being shortlisted. So haunting, different, fairytale, ghost story with, for me, the flavours of Frances Hodgson Burnett...

  3. This was such a beautiful book! And I totally agree on the Newbery.

  4. I've heard such good things about this one! Must. Get. It. Read.

  5. Great review! I've already reserved this at my library. Thanks once again, Myrna!


  6. Wow, high praise indeed. This one does sound great though.

  7. I'm on it! This book sounds wonderful.


  8. Well, you already know I love this book! I adored the fact that it read like an original fairy tale or fable. Lauren Oliver has so much imagination.

    Nice review, Myrna.

  9. I am hoping to read this soon!


  10. You always come up with the best MG to recommend. I really appreciate that, since I'm not as familiar with this category off the top of my head (but I'm trying to be!). Adding LIESL AND PO to the to-read list...

  11. like NOW
    I've heard so much about it, and reading you say that it lived up to the hype makes me want it even more.

  12. Sounds as if this is destined to become a classic!

    Happy Thanksgiving, Myrna. I'm grateful this year for finding your blog and getting to know you.

  13. The blurb enticed me and the cover grabbed me but the little tidbit you wrote about the authors journey sealed it. This is a must read.

  14. Another rave review for Liesl and Po. I should put this next on my list. I know what you mean about "living up to hype" - the last few over-hyped books I read were a bit disappointing.

  15. This book is on the way to my house. I've wanted to read it for a while, mostly because of the name Liesl :) but your review has me really excited! I do love this author.