Liesl & Po was a really cute book by Lauren Oliver. The author’s voice greatly reminded me of Kate DiCamillo’s in The Tale of Despereaux. Perfidy. Ineffable. Tee hee.
L&P told the story of Liesl, a recently orphaned little girl who had spent the last couple of years locked in the attic by her evil stepmother after her father’s untimely (and suspicious) demise. A ghost named Po and it’s (ghosts have no gender) ghost pet a cat/dog (animals forget what they were too), Bundle appear to Liesl one night. They help her escape the attic and embark on an incredible journey, involving an alchemist, a foreign princess, a thief, a dim-witted guard, her father’s ashes, and the greatest magic in the whole world. Not to mention her new friend Will (the alchemist’s much abused young apprentice), who has been admiring her from afar for months.
This story was really adorable, and Oliver’s language was crisp and concise. She said that she wrote this book as a personal catharsis after the death of a close friend. I enjoyed her portrayal of the afterlife–how things seemed to just blur together, and how trivial tidbits, like one’s gender and species, are soon forgotten. This book, like Holes by Louis Sachar, introduce many different elements and characters, yet somehow ties them all together in the end.
I would recommend this book for any child dealing with the loss of a parent, or even as a teaching tool to give them a gentle perspective on death. Liesl & Po reminds us that death is nothing but a horizon, and a horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight.
3.5 of 5 stars