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 Fall; Delirium) creates another highly original world, this one for middle-grade readers."
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:
Have a Marvelous Monday!
Shannon Whitney Messenger (our founding mother)