Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Liesl and Po

The world has been dark and grey for so long that few can remember the sun.  Life is even worse for Liesl, who is locked up in an attic room while her stepmother spends her late father's fortune.  And life isn't great for Will either.  He is the alchemist's assistant and must work for a man that is as vain as he is cruel.  But Will's bright spot is seeing Liesl drawing at her window, and Liesl's bright spot is meeting Po, a ghost of sorts who hopes to help her find her father.  Things go array when Will accidentally leaves a rare magic at the funeral director's home while running an errand, so instead of magic, the Lady Premiere receives ashes and instead of ashes, Liesl receives a rare magic.  Liesl runs from her stepmother to spread her father's "ashes" by their old home, and Will runs to avoid being punished.  The guard chases to give Will a hat.  The alchemist and Lady Premiere chase to get the magic.  A woman and police officer chase because they think that Liesl is crazy.  There is a lot of running and chasing in this tender but lively story.

While this is an adventurous story, Lauren Oliver reveals in the notes that she wrote this story because a close friend had died and her world felt gray.  That explains the character of Po, who is both at peace with being on the Other Side, but lost too.  And it explains the optimistic sorrow of Liesl, who misses her father so but wants to continue to live and be happy somehow.  This is the type of book that I want to read over and over again.  It makes the heart swell and break all at the same time.

I would recommend this book for children in grades 3 to 5.  I hope that this book becomes a Caudill nominee soon, since this is a book that begs to be read.  Also, this would make a great classroom read aloud.

Liesl and Po is one of my new favorite books.  5 stars, 2 thumbs up, 10 million points, however you want to say it, it's good.  I checked this book out from the library and then bought a copy to keep-it is that good!

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