Liesl & Po

by Lauren Oliver

Other authorsKei Acedera (Illustrator)
Hardcover, 2011

Call number




HarperCollins (2011), Edition: 1, 320 pages


A mix-up involving the greatest magic in the world has tremendous consequences for Liesl, an orphan who has been locked in an attic, Will, an alchemist's runaway apprentice, and Po, a ghost, as they are pursued by friend and foe while making an important journey.

User reviews

LibraryThing member titania86
Liesl has been kept in the attic of her house ever since her father grew progressively sick and then died. Her stepmother Augusta hates her and keeps her there, feeding her meager meals and rarely allowing her to leave. Liesl draws to pass the time and does little else. Three days after her
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father’s death, she receives two unexpected visitors: a ghost named Po, who is neither a boy nor a girl, and his ghostly pet Bundle, who is neither a dog nor a cat. Po agrees to try to find her father on the other side in exchange for a drawing and discovers that her father wants to go home and only Liesl is left to undertake the journey. Liesl and Po’s journey will inevitably intertwine with Will’s. He’s an apprentice to a cruel alchemist and accidentally mixes up Liesl’s father’s ashes with the greatest magic ever created. Po and Liesl take this magic and embark on a wonderful and strange journey, with both friends and enemies following them, to take Liesl’s father to his proper resting place.

Lauren Oliver opens the book with an explanation of the circumstances that led her to write the book: her best friend died and she wrote the book as way of coping with it. I can definitely see that reflected in the story and I feel that anyone who has lost a loved one can relate to it, not just children. Liesl’s situation locked in the attic of her own house is simply miserable and she goes through every robotically without any real excitement. Sunlight has also disappeared, leaving the world cold and gray. The lovely charcoal drawings illustrate this feeling wonderfully. This is a physical representation of Lauren Oliver’s own feelings in the months after her friend’s death. Liesl and Po’s journey to lay her father to rest is symbolic of anyone’s personal journey in accepting a death in their lives and saying goodbye to that person. I love that the setting and time period of the book is unspecified, so the reader can imagine it as wherever and whenever they like. Liesl and Po deals with death in a way that doesn’t talk down to children and acknowledges that children can (and have to) deal with death in their own lives.

Although the tale is fairly dark, Lauren Oliver tempers it with humor, levity, magic, and unique characters. Liesl, Will, and Po’s unlikely friendship is delightful and they have their own very different personalities and states of being. They were all alone in the world and found solace in each other in the grayscale world they live in. Liesl is surprisingly creative and brave for a girl who unquestioningly stayed in the attic for so long. Po is an enigmatic being that seems to become more and more human as he stays in the living world. Will is an abused child and has insecurities as a result, but remains a good, loyal friend to Liesl. The other characters, namely the adults in the story besides Liesl’s father, are flat characters that are simply villainous. This aspect gives the story a fairy or folk tale feel that doesn’t take away from the story.

I enjoyed Liesl and Po very much and found Lauren Oliver’s prose engaging and lyrical. Those who enjoyed Neil Gaiman’s Graveyard Book or Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events books would enjoy it as well.
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LibraryThing member msf59
Liesl is a young girl, trapped in an attic room by a nasty stepmother. One night she is visited by a ghost named Po. A relationship blossoms, something they both desperately need to move forward in their unusual lives.
Will is a hapless and lonely, young apprentice, working for a wicked alchemist.
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He makes a serious mistake in one of his deliveries, setting him on a course that will change his life forever.
How these three meet, is how this lovely fairy-tale progresses. It’s filled with charm, excitement and old-fashioned adventure, that will leave you grinning and cheering this rag-tag trio on. There’s a bit Harry Potter, mixed with a healthy dose of Neil Gaiman. And Oliver’s prose sings:

“She liked that word: we. It sounded warm and open, like a hug.”

“People could push and pull at you, and poke you, and probe as deep as they could go. They could even tear you apart, bit by bit. But at the heart and root and soul of you, something would remain untouched.”

Okay, this is simple: Find a copy and read it! See, that wasn’t hard.
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LibraryThing member booktwirps
Liesl lives in an attic, locked away by her greedy stepmother after Liesl’s father passed away. Unable to go outside, Liesl spends her time sitting at her desk, drawing pictures and wishing she could see her father again. Unbeknownst to Liesl, she has a secret admirer. Young Will, an alchemists
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assistant, watches her from the street, wondering who she is. One fateful night, not long after her father has passed away, Liesl is visited by a ghost named Po. Po isn’t sure if it’s a boy or girl, and unsure whether it’s pet is a cat or dog. They’ve lived on the other side so long, they’ve forgotten what they were. This same night, Will is sent by the alchemist to deliver the world’s most powerful magic to a client and to pick up some supplies from a man who also happens to be the localmortician. When Will mixes up the magic box with the box of Liesl’s father’s ashes, he sets off a chain of events that will take Liesl, Po and Will on a magical adventure.

Ms. Oliver has once again crafted a totally engaging story, this time for young readers. The story had elements of Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book, and is also similar in tone to many of Roald Dahl’s books. I couldn’t help but be reminded of the nasty aunts inJames & the Giant Peach whenever Augusta and Madame Premiere were in a scene. The mismatched cast of characters are odd and engaging, ranging from sweet and innocent to downright nasty. Kei Acedera’s beautiful drawings scattered amongst the pages help set the tone perfectly. Liesl & Po is full of magic, adventure and most of all love. This is a book that everyone young and old will enjoy. I can’t recommend it enough.

(Review based on an ARC courtesy of the publisher)
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LibraryThing member breakingdownslowly
Oh Lauren Oliver. genius you.

I felt like someone was sitting in front of me, telling me this magical story. A story that made me feel like a hopeful child again. A story that filled me with wonder and reminded me of all the fairy tales I know and love. It's a story I want to share with
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Boy, even if he might not be old enough for it.

There were a lot of important characters in this book, and I pretty much wanted to hug all of them. Except the bad guys. I wanted to shoo them away for being mean to all the wonderful characters. How dare they corrupt the dear hearts!

The writing was fabulous, though it shouldn't even need to be said. It was like reading a piece of Lauren's soul. Beautiful and magic and transported me to a time when I was a kid again.

The story had a lot of different perspectives, which I know some don't like, but they all blended together to make one story out of several stories and they all met together at the end and it was so freaking genius. freaking genius.

Go buy the book. Like now. Drop everything (unless you're holding a baby, don't drop the baby) and go get it.
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LibraryThing member nlsobon
Let me first start off by saying that this is the first book I’ve read by Lauren Oliver. I’ve had “Delirium” sitting on my shelf to be read since its release day, but for some reason or another, I have yet to start it. After finishing “Liesl & Po”, however, her MG debut, I’m going to
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have to work on finding time to read “Delirium”.

“Liesl & Po” is a fantastic MG novel. It’s about Liesl, a young girl forced to live in the attic by her stepmother after her father’s death. One night, Po and Bundle, both from the other side (ghosts), appear in the attic after noticing Liesl has stopped drawing. When Po tells her that it’ll try and locate her father on the other side, she promises to make him a drawing. Which brings us to Will, an orphan and the alchemist’s apprentice. On his way to make a delivery for the alchemist, Will stops to stare up at Liesl’s window. It’d been days since he’d seen her face in the window and he was starting to become alarmed, so he waits, hoping to see her face even though he’s running late with his delivery. When Liesl appears in the window, Will is elated. They don’t know each other, but Liesl is almost like a light that shines on his dark life. When Will accidentally mixes up the box containing the alchemist’s greatest power with a box full of ashes, he will set off on a journey that will lead him right to Liesl.

The characters are wonderful. The illustrations that go along with the text allow the reader to easily envision what is taking place. Overall, this was a pleasant read and I’d recommend it to those looking for a great MG novel.
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LibraryThing member zzshupinga
ARC provided by netGalley

Liesl lives in a attic bedroom, locked away by her cruel stepmother after her father passed away. She's all alone, until one night Po appears from the side beyond the grave. Will, an alchemist's apprentice, messes up an important delivery--the most powerful magic the world
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has ever known. Will, Liesl, and Po's paths intertwine one night and the world is never the same afterwards.

While this was an interesting, and a somewhat engaging story, there were times where it made me want to rip my hair out. The author introduces seemingly random plot points that either have nothing to do with the story or everything to do with it, but without a lot of information. For example, we're told that Mo's sister is missing and it keeps being brought up until the author says something to the effect "but we won't discuss this anymore." Why did bring it up to begin with then? Or there's the case of the major plot point of the sun missing. All we're told is that it went missing, but nothing about when or why or is it gone everywhere...and then well its a pretty big plot point so I won't mention further.

One of the things the author does well is give a lot of information about the characters. We can picture them clearly in our mind and know what they look like with glorious detail. Yet at times this is also a downfall to the writing. Every minor character, even the ones that we only see for two seconds, are described with such detail it led me to believe that I would see them again, after all why describe in such depth the person that you see on the street if they don't have a central part to the story? I know it sounds like a weird thing to mention, but it started cluttering my head up with characters that I would never see again and didn't need to care about to begin with.

Perhaps I'm just not the right age for this book. Perhaps younger readers will just read and gloss over these things that bothered me. But, for me it's just not the right book. I'm glad to see it's the right book for others and I hope they'll be able to recommend it, but I just can't.
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LibraryThing member AyleeArgh
In short: Liesl and Po by Lauren Oliver is a wonderful and whimsical MG fantasy that reminded me how much I love the genre.

Reading Liesl and Po reminded me how much I love MG and how much I miss reading it. I get so caught up in all the YA releases that everyone is reading and loving that I forget
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about all the MG releases that also sound amazing. Liesl and Po is truly a special gem of a book, a wonderful MG fantasy that had me smiling at the adorable characters and tearing up at the poignant premise.

Every element characteristic of an MG fantasy was present in Liesl and Po - unexplained and whimsical phenomena, magical elements, cartoonish characters, etc. - so much so that at times, it almost seemed cliched because it was so ideal. This may be irritating for people who are looking for an MG read that breaks the mold a bit, but I was fine with it because I adore these elements, personally.

Lauren Oliver's signature beautiful writing was of course present in Liesl and Po - fantastical and gorgeous and effortless. The use of the third-person omniscient point of view lets the reader see the story through the eyes of many different characters, which makes for very effective storytelling. I was impressed that Lauren Oliver was able to translate her usual realistic teen writing into whimsical MG writing - if I hadn't known any better, I would have thought that she's been writing MG all along!

I read Liesl and Po when it was made available free online by HarperCollins for a limited time, but I will most definitely be purchasing a beautiful finished copy. I look forward to seeing Kei Acedera's wonderful illustrations in ink. And I also look forward to reading a lot more MG in the future!
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LibraryThing member fredamans
Ironically in the very last chapter, it is mentioned to be "Opposites Day". Well, it actually is "Opposites Day" while I am writing this review. Weird, right?!
This book is so much fun to read. Whether you're a kid or an adult, you will fall in love with the characters, and feel a need to read as
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the story progresses with much action, adventure and mystery.
I flew through this story, I really just couldn't get enough. And as I sit here now, thinking about it, I feel bad it didn't keep going.
People are really going to love this magical adventure, I promise you that!
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LibraryThing member skstiles612
I have always loved ghost stories. It never mattered if they were funny or scary. This was a great ghost story. This was one of those ghost stories that was full of evil people and ghosts who reach out and touch your heart. Liesl has recently lost her father. She misses him terribly. Her
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step-mother has kept her locked in the attic for months slowly starving her while her very own daughter has been forced to play the role of Liesl.

Will was an orphan adopted by an alchemist to be his apprentice. The alchemist has no desire to teach him how to create magic. His desire is to use the boy to run errands. He too has little to eat, his clothes are too big for him and he has never heard a kind word. Will runs errands each night for the alchemist and takes a route that allows him to gaze at a young girl in an attic. He is worried because her light has not been on in her room for several days. He dreams of them becoming friends. He’s never had a friend. On this night he has to make a delivery of a box of magic to an important lady, then he must go to the grey mans” place to pick up some items for the alchemist. The grey man disposes of bodies. On this night he has sitting on his bench in a jewelry box the ashes of Liesl’s father. Will arrives and gives the grey man his list. The warmth from the fire lulls him to sleep. When he leaves he mistakenly picks up the wrong box. From here things get interesting.

Liesl is suddenly visited by two ghosts, Po and Bundles. She becomes friends with them. In exchange for a picture Po agrees to go back to the other side to look for her father. He finds him and goes back to tell Liesl of his discovery and that his father just wants to go to the willow tree. This is where her mother is buried. This is where her father planned on being buried one day. Liesl decides she must find a way to escape the attic and take her father’s ashes to the willow tree.

Because of the mix up Will, Liesl, Po and Bundles cross paths as they find themselves on the run from one kind hearted man and three evil beings. The author’s note at the end explains how the book came about. I could relate to her reasons. It is a story that will touch your heart in so many ways. The illustrations in this book are absolutely beautiful.

This is a great book. I was excited when I receive an email advertising the opportunity to read this book free until January 31st. I had seen it listed on several blogs. The premise made it very appealing. I have had it on my list for quite some time. I can’t wait to purchase this for my students so they may enjoy such a wonderful book.
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LibraryThing member mimi-vee
This book is MAGIC. Pure, beautiful, raw magic -- the kind that makes you want to be a kid again and let your imagination run wild; the kind that makes you reminisce in the times when black was black and white was white and innocence wasn't a rarity.

Liesl & Po may just be a middle grade novel, but
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I honestly think that anyone will enjoy this book, no matter what age! I adored everything about it: the world, the characters, the magic, the storyline. Even though it may not have been the most unpredictable, there were enough twists and turns to keep me captivated.

I don't think there's any way I can tell you just how much I adored this book! It was enchanting and magical and fascinating and pure. The gorgeous illustrations just added to the already beautiful imagery, and the charming characters are sure to always be at the back of my mind. Lauren Oliver has done it again!

Absolutely and truly one-hundred percent ineffable, Liesl & Po is a book that's sure to blow you off your feet! I recommend it to anyone who knows how to read or doesn't! :)

BUY or BORROW?: Oh my gosh, I can't stress how much you need to buy this enough! The cover and the illustrations and the story inside are all just so beautiful -- this is definitely a book you want on your shelf!
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LibraryThing member shazzerwise
Charming and inventive, but shows its youth. The text is a little immature (repetition, run-on sentences, etc), and the story borders on twee. I enjoyed the characters quite a bit, especially dear Mo with his cat and his hot chocolate. Good for fans of Kat, Incorrigible, The Incorrigible Children
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of Ashton Place and books by Lemony Snicket.
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LibraryThing member MaryinHB


Liesl is locked in the atticby her stepmother after her father's death and draws to fill her time. Po, a ghost, neither male nor female and Bundle, neither cat nor dog, visits her and said it has found her father on The Other Side and that he hasn't crossed over to the
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Beyond. Po will rely more messages if she draws for him. Through Po, Liesl finds strength and determination to escape from her prison and return her father's ashes to next to her mother so he can be at peace and move to the Beyond.

Will, an orphan, has seen the girl in the attic from his many travels collecting materials and making deliveries for the Alchemist as his apprentice. He never imagines that their paths will cross but when he mixes up the ashes of Liesl's father with magic for the Lady Premier, their lives become dangerously intertwined. As they both escape from their horrible lives and find their way to deliver the ashes to a restful place, more intrigue and danger meet then head on.

What an amazing book and wonderful story in the vein of The Tales of the Desperaux. This is easily a story that can be read aloud by parents to their children for them to truly enjoy together. Yes, it is a ghost story but nothing that should scare the younger readers and it should open the door for some interesting discussions about death. Oliver has create a timeless tale and is a beautiful remembrance for the passing of a friend.
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LibraryThing member TValeros
I'm struggling quite a bit in writing my review for this novel. I've read it within a few days but it's taken a month to write in a review. My reasons being that I don't enjoy writing negative reviews or even anything close to it. I'm the type of person who is sensitive when it comes to words,
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which is a major factor of being an introvert. That's my bad. But I really wanted to put in my '2 cents' for this read.
Liesl & Po is a great story don't get me wrong, but there were certain aspects that just stood out more that plainly rubbed me the wrong way. Now take into account that this is the first novel of Lauren Oliver that I have read.

The opening note from the author to the reader explaining the reasons or story correlations of Liesl & Po was one big element why I could not write my review as soon as I was finished reading. I felt as if I would be talking rudely about an unfortunate situation to someone's love one's passing. Which in all sincerity I give my condolences. But I'm trying real hard to put that out of my mind with much difficulty so I can write my review.

Liesl & Po has a strong take to a Cinderella twist. Where Liesl's mom passes away, her father then believes Liesl needs a step-mother and afterwards her father unexpectedly dies. Subsequently Liesl is locked up in the attic. Po comes into play as the 'fairy godmother' but instead is a shadow from the other side. Later on Will somewhat becomes her knight in shining armor.
The strong points in why I liked LIesl & Po would be the evident emotion that just pops out of the pages. You truly feel the pain in losing her father, the anger you have toward the step mother, and the sigh of relief when she's set free. The smudgy feel of the artwork blends well to Ms Lauren Oliver's writing style, and there were also some lovely hard hitting proses that were sprinkled throughout the book. The negatives? The pace was a bit slow and mostly due to an excess of descriptions. And the descriptions that I was most interested in, like the guard's sister, were very scarce and disheartening. I believe this story is aimed to the more mature middle graders because it has too much of a dark moody feel to it. There was also the part where Po was explaining about how 'wonderful' the otherside was and how better he prefers it than to the real world. Which I felt as if he was implying that it was better to be dead. I had chills thinking of my child ever thinking that way.
As for the ending, it was very pleasing. I always enjoy a happy ending.
So, as a final end note? Liesl & Po is an expressive and quaint story. If only it was written/told a little differently I would not have had such a hard time trying to see the best in it.
You should still give it a try. What I might not have rated in high marks, might just be your cup of tea.
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LibraryThing member TheLostEntwife
When I picked up Liesl & Po, I expected good things. The cover was perfect, the author one of my favorites, and I settled down into my sofa, prepared to thoroughly enjoy myself.

What I didn’t expect was to be drawn in and completely surrounded by magic. From the very first introduction of Liesl,
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to the boy looking in the window and the screwy mix-up, I was enchanted. I felt like I was reading something that was special – and special it was.

I’ve been on a good run of books lately – I struggled recently with a dry-spell in my reading, and when I picked up a book to break it I was lucky enough to read this one. I firmly believe the magic in this book has touched everything I’ve read since – and the list is slowly racking up.

Liesl & Po is a story of letting go of those gone, of being brave in the face of immense danger, of accepting what might not be the “norm”, and of looking for friendly faces where there was once thought to be only hostile. It’s a beautiful, beautiful novel and one I highly recommend for the middle graders, teens, and adults in your life.
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LibraryThing member TheBookLife
I don't usually read middle grade books, but since it was written by Lauren Oliver and I'd heard so many good things about it, I decided to give it a try. I'm glad I did, because this was a great story. It was so well written and full of imagination.

The friendship between Liesl & Po was one of my
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favorite parts of the story. Po comes to her in the attic she's been locked away in for months, she hasn't been drawing since her father died a couple of days ago and Po is concerned about her. Of course, you might expect a little girl to be scared when a ghost appears in her room, but Liesl is not your average little girl. Will, the alchemist's assistant, watches Liesl from afar. He doesn't know anything about her, but he knows that when he sees her sitting in her window at night, he can't help watching her. They all come together to embark on an adventure full of magic.

I really liked all of the illustrations throughout the book, too. They made this book just a little more special. There was plenty going on in the story, but I really enjoyed that it wasn't overly complicated. I know this is intended for younger audiences and I didn't expect it to be extremely complicated, but after all of the complex YA titles I read most of the time, this was a really enjoyable and easy read. I would definitely recommend this for anyone looking for a great story and a fun,magical escape.
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LibraryThing member VykiC37
Find this review and more at On The Shelf

I received Liesl & Po as an ARC copy shortly after I saw a few others’ reviews on it. I found the cover very interesting and couldn’t wait to read it. Readers a little younger than teen are able to read this story and the voice of it is that of a rich
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fairytale. The story follows Liesl, a young girl who just lost her father and has been locked away in the attic by her awful stepmother. A pair of ghosts, Po and Bundle, appear to her and she becomes friends with them, they help her to escape the attic so she can take the ashes of her father to a resting place. What Liesl doesn’t know is that there has been a big mix up and the road to where she needs to go will be a very rocky one.

This tale is a bit of a grim one, it deals with death, evil people, and cruelty, but the sun does come back out and it is a very good healing story. The characters are full of life and personality, even the little animal ghost, Bundle, has a wonderful personality. I especially liked the ending of the book; it was very beautiful and full of hope. The illustrations in the book provide a wonderful accompaniment to the words.

At the very beginning, the author has a note where she says she wrote this story because of the sudden death of a friend of hers and never wrote it for the purpose of being published. I can say I am glad it was published and that she decided to share a story with us that started off just for her healing.

Very enjoyable, quick read, hopeful ending, heart warming.
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LibraryThing member nbmars
In a forward, Oliver explains to the reader that she wrote this book after the sudden death of her best friend. The world turned gray for her, and it took her months before she felt color and life come back. She re-envisioned her own journey as the story of the little girl Liesl, who lost her
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Eleven-year-old Liesl’s father had been hospitalized for a long time before he died; for Liesl, “the sun had not come out in 1,728 days.” Liesl hadn’t been allowed to see her father since he got sick; her stepmother Augusta had locked her in the attic. Hardly anyone knows she is there except an orphan boy, Will, who walks by her window at night and sees her drawing when he is out making deliveries for an alchemist.

On the third night after her father died, a ghost appears to Liesl. Named Po, it has a child-sized shape, and is neither a girl nor a boy. It has a pet with it, neither a cat nor a dog, named Bundle.

Po helps Liesl escape, and together with Will, the four embark on an adventure to take her father’s ashes back to the willow tree where Liesl’s mother is buried, so her father can be at peace. They are helped by Mo, a man with a big heart, whose “already enormous heart expanded even more, enough to enclose the two small children and hold them safely there forever.”

Evaluation: This is a charming story that is really better than it sounds in the summary. If you have read Oliver’s other work, you already know she takes improbable sounding themes and turns them into magic, and in all her books, she shows how “love can open like a flower out of even the hardest places.” This book is intended for a middle grade audience.
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LibraryThing member EdGoldberg
In her acknowledgments, Lauren Oliver explains why Liesl & Po is especially important to her, and it shows in her writing and story, as well as Kei Acedera’s illustrations, which are somewhat akin to Brian Selznick’s illustrations in Hugo Cabret and Wonderstruck, but on a smaller scale.

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Liesl is stuck in her attic by an evil stepmother, ever since her father died. One night, she is visited by Po, a ghost (a boy…or maybe not) and his companion, Bundle (a dog…or maybe a cat). It is hard to tell what these apparitions are, since they are somewhat fuzzy. Liesl and Po are both lonely and befriend each other.

Will, an orphan and alchemist’s apprentice, has a crush on Liesl, although they’ve never met. He just sees her each night sadly sitting in her attic window. When Will, making deliveries for the alchemist, mixes up a box with human ashes from the undertaker with the box of the most powerful magic the alchemist has ever made, destined for Madame Premier, he triggers an escapade loaded with good and evil, action and adventure.

Liesl and Po’s story is, indeed, enchanting. While Oliver describes the bleak, sun-starved landscape the characters inhabit, there is always hope. The characters are marvelous. There are kind hearted people, such as Madame Premier’s guard, Mo, who only wants to give Will a hat because he looks cold and who carries his cat, Lefty, in a sling. There is the evil alchemist and, more evil, Madame Premier who generates coldness wherever she goes. Of course, no fairy tale/fantasy could be complete without an evil stepmother and Augusta surely fits the bill. The care that Will, Po and Liesl show for each other, confirms that there truly is love in the world.

We should not forget Kei Acedera’s black and white pencil (I’m assuming it’s pencil) drawings which are rich in detail and add an amazing touch to the story. In my mind, they are an integral part of the book.

While the book jacket says Liesl & Po is geared for 8-12 year olds, I think teens as well as adults will enjoy it, because if you have a good story and good artwork, the appeal is ageless. I took Liesl & Po out of the library, but have plans to add it to my personal book collection. It is a treat.
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LibraryThing member pandaris
I am absolutely blown away by this book. This is one of the most magical books I've read, the kind of book you search for among the vast amount of ordinary books. Truly a gem. There wasn't a single thing I didn't like about this book.

The cast of characters in this book is like no other. We have
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Liesl, who is so strong despite suffering the loss of her dad; Po and Bundle, the ghosts who don't quite know what they used to be, but like Liesl's drawings and so are drawn to the living world. Liesl's evil stepmother, wow she's absolutely evil. Will, who watches a girl in a window from the street everynight, and his master the Alchemist, a grouchy old man who answers to the Lady Premiere, who is not what she seems. Their strands of the story are all woven together magically. And I absolutely loved that the story is told from every viewpoint, so you know exactly what any character is thinking at any given time, and know the motivations behind their actions.

This book makes you feel as well. The grief Liesl feels, but also the excitement at escaping the attic and beginning the journey to give her father rest. Near the end when everything's coming to a head you definitely feel the tension, and I for one had trouble putting it down at this point, needing to see what happened next. And the interior art, while not finalized in the ARC, was beautiful. They were mostly rough sketches, but honestly, I loved them. They definitely added to the atmosphere of the story, and I'd almost prefer and hope that the final versions look almost exactly like what is in the ARC.

All in all, this is a Lauren Oliver book you do not want to miss. Even if you're not a fan of fantasy, I would still recommend this. I'm definitely hoping that she writes more middle-grade books in the future, because of all three of Lauren's books, this is definitely my favorite. I will be buying a finished copy to reread and cherish for years to come.
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LibraryThing member poetrytoprose
There are two things I know with absolute certainty about Lauren Oliver’s books:

1) I will read anything she writes.
2) She will always make me cry.

I don’t read much middle grade, but this book, along with A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, has definitely changed things up on my reading
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Liesl & Po was an enchanting and timeless story. Following the death of her father, Liesl has been locked away in the attic of her home by her stepmother. One day two ghosts named Po and Bundle appear and they offer company to her lonely existence. Soon after, a mix up involving an alchemist’s apprentice, Will, and two boxes, sets off a chain of events that brings them all together in an unforgettable adventure.

On the surface, the story is straightforward in the way that it has the essential evil characters and there are no real surprising twists along the way. However, the book also handles emotion in a palpable way: grief, loss, love, friendship and, ultimately, healing. It’s all very subtle, but there’s depth and so much hope to be found in these words and characters.

My favorite character of the story was, without a doubt, Po. Po, neither a he nor a she, along with Bundle, neither a dog nor a cat, was Liesl’s primary companion on her journey. Po’s character definitely had moments full of sarcasm — especially when Will came into the picture — but kindness and compassion peeked through as well. Liesl and Po’s friendship grew so beautifully and made my heart swell. And, yes, they did make me cry, too.

I have loved and adored each of Oliver’s three published books. Though they’re all very different from the last, each is filled with her gorgeous prose and wonderfully layered characters. Prior to picking up Liesl & Po I already considered myself a big fan, but now I’m finding myself even more eager to see what she does next. I know it will be amazing.
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LibraryThing member Candacemom2two
Full of magic, adventure, friendship and family this book was a nice change for me from what I've recently been reading. Although it had a bit of a slow start it quickly picked up and I had fun watching things unfold. I loved that every person in this book seems to connect somehow and it really was
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fun watching to see what would happen and piece things together.
The characters were a lot of fun but I think it took a few chapters for me to warm up to them. They each had distinctive personalities or things that really stood out. Liesl loved her father and was determined to get his ashes to their old home. She was open minded to the ghost of Po and was never scared, though was quite curious. Po didn't always understand things, he's really just a shadow of himself. Or itself since he/she doesn't even remember if he/she was a boy or a girl. But he seems compelled to help Liesl. Will just has this strong feeling from the beginning that he must protect Liesl.
This was a fast read and once I got through the first few chapters I was sucked in and read it straight through. I encourage fans of middle grade fantasy to give this one a try!
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LibraryThing member fyrefly98
Summary: Liesl is a recent orphan, kept locked in an attic room by her stepmother ever since the death of her father. But one day she discovers she's not alone up there; a ghost named Po appears, attracted to Liesl from the Other Side by her drawings. Unbeknownst to her, Liesl also has another
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admirer: Will, another orphan and assistant to the alchemist, has seen her through her attic window and longs to meet her. When there's a mix-up involving one of Will's deliveries, a box containing the most powerful magic in the world, and the box containing the ashes of Liesl's father, suddenly both children find themselves on the run... but what can two orphans and one ghost do on their own in a large, unfriendly world?

Review: Liesl & Po is an odd little book, but odd in the best possible way. Primarily, it's got a plot and a central theme that I don't think I've ever come across in mid-grade fiction before, and only very rarely in fiction in general. It's certainly very different from Delirium, the other of Oliver's books that I've read, not only in story but also in tone. It's got the plucky orphans that are seemingly ubiquitous in children's fiction, but unlike most other books geared towards this age level, it deals with the death of a parent pretty directly, and takes on the question of the afterlife. I really appreciated the way that it Oliver handles such a potentially troublesome topic; the tone of the story is sensitive to the magnitude of such a loss, while remaining level-headed and avoiding melodrama, and (most importantly) not talking down to its audience.

I did find the worldbuilding to be a little strange. Primarily, I had a hard time getting a handle on when and where the story was taking place. Was it an alternate Britain? America? Some fictional country? What approximate era? Some textual clues seemed to point in one direction, some in another, and while it's not critical to understanding or enjoying the story, it did make me feel occasionally off-balance. (There may be more clues - or even a map - in the printed version; I listened to the audio, which was read flawlessly by Jim Dale.) There were also some details of the world that wound up being very important to the story but weren't revealed until fairly late in the game. I can understand not wanting to do a big worldbuilding infodump right at the beginning, but the way it was handled had a slight feeling of afterthought to me, like "Oh, by the way, they've been eating nothing but potatoes this whole time." But in general, I found the setting of the story less important than the interesting characters and subtly sweet, sad, and unique plot, and overall the book was definitely an enjoyable read. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: I think kids (and adults) who liked Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events will find Liesl & Po to have a similar sensibility and sense of humor. More generally, it should appeal to readers of all ages who are looking for a non-traditional fantasy/ghost story.
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LibraryThing member jfoster_sf
This book was interesting, and had some very unique ideas about the afterlife, but I could not really connect at all with any of the characters. Still love the author though and will continue to try out her books as she writes them.
LibraryThing member bhwrn1
This was a cute book. Middle grade fantasy/paranormal. I can see how it is written for children 9-12 years old. I think my oldest might read it.
Liesl is a little girl who has lost her parents and is kept in an attic by her step mother. Po is a ghost who begins to visit her. He has an animal named
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Bundle. Will is an orphan who works for an alchemist who has been trying to make magic (by stealing sunlight). Will admires Liesl from a far.
Liesl's father dies and she wants to take his ashes to her childhood home to bury him. Po helps her escape. Will and Liesl meet up as she is trying to bring her father to his resting place and Will is trying to escape the alchemist because of a mistake he made while delivering something the alchemist has made.
It is interesting how there are many characters introduced and eventually they all collide as part of the story towards the end.
Oliver has, once again, done a great job with her writing.
The one thing that bothered me about this book is the fact that you don't know exactly what year it's set in. It almost seems steampunk in a way, but it's never actually stated that it is in the 1800s or early 1900s. Yet the clothing description reminds me of these times.
I give the book a 4/5.
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LibraryThing member sszkutak
Background: Liesl is a young girl locked away in an attic by her evil stepmother, and to make matters worse her father has recently passed away. One day Liesl meets Po and Bundle, ghost that have come to visit her in the attic and they begin an incredible journey to return her fathers ashed to
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where he would like to rest forever.

While Liesl is locked up, Will is an orphan boy recent adopted by an alchemist. Will is the "apprentice" which really just means that he does all the jobs and deliveries and gets called useless all day and night.

Eventually Liesl and Will's stories intertwine and together with Po and Bundle they have a very interesting series of days.

Review: I received this as an Audiobook from Random House, and was very happy to have chosen it as one of my books to review. Liesl and Po was delightful to listen to and the reader was wonderful. I think my favorite was him doing an old woman sneezing... anywho... The story was well thought out and who doesn't love a happy ending, but I can only say that I just "liked" it not really liked it or loved it.

The plot was nicely thought out, the kids making their ways toward each other slowly; and the characters- all of them- were entertaining in their own ways. But more often than not, I found myself questioning things and wondering why there were so many nasty people all thrown at these poor little kids.

From what I understand, this was written to cope with loss and you can definitely tell that, but it also makes the reader think a lot about loss and that can be a little depressing.

I did enjoy this book, it was fun and kept me wanting to know what would happen to Liesl, Will, and Po next.

I think for a young audience this would be fitting, as hopefully, they have not experienced too much loss yet, so they won't be depressed to think about it. Or for those who need a pick me up about finding friends when you need them
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Great Stone Face Book Award (Nominee — 2013)
Sasquatch Book Award (Nominee — 2014)
Nutmeg Book Award (Nominee — Intermediate — 2016)




006201451X / 9780062014511
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