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Liesl & Po

Liesl & Po

4.3 51
by Lauren Oliver, Kei Acedera

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From New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver comes a luminous novel that glows with rare magic, ghostly wonders, and a true friendship that lights even the darkest of places. An E. B. White Read-Aloud Honor Book, it’s perfect for fans of the author’s other middle grade novels: The Spindlers and the Curiosity House series.


From New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver comes a luminous novel that glows with rare magic, ghostly wonders, and a true friendship that lights even the darkest of places. An E. B. White Read-Aloud Honor Book, it’s perfect for fans of the author’s other middle grade novels: The Spindlers and the Curiosity House series.

Liesl lives in a tiny attic bedroom, locked away by her cruel stepmother. Her only friends are the shadows and the mice—until one night a ghost named Po appears from the darkness.

That same evening, an alchemist's apprentice named Will makes an innocent mistake that has tremendous consequences for Liesl and Po, and it draws the three of them together on an extraordinary journey.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The sun has not shined for 1,728 days and counting in YA author Oliver’s (Delirium) first book for middle-grade readers, a gloominess that underscores a plot in which adults seek personal gain at the expense of children. Classic fairy tale elements weave throughout this spirited, old-fashioned adventure: a young girl locked in an attic, a wicked stepmother, an alchemist, an orphan boy running from a cruel master. Add two nearly identical boxes—one containing the ashes of 11-year-old Liesl’s recently deceased father, the other holding “the Most Powerful Magic in the World”—and mix them up, and excitement begins to break through the bleakness. Po, a presence from “the Other Side,” brings Liesl a message to bury her father’s ashes underneath a certain willow tree, inspiring her to escape her imprisonment in her stepmother’s attic and head for the train. An exhilarating chase ensues, as characters pursue the runaway children and the mixed-up boxes. Invigorating and hopeful, this novel testifies to the power of friendship and generosity to conquer greed and depression. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 8–12. (Oct.)
Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA) (Starred Review)
Praise for Before I Fall:“Samantha’s attempts to save her life and right the wrongs she has caused are precisely what will draw readers into this complex story and keep them turning pages until Sam succeeds in living her last day the right way.”
ALA Booklist
Praise for Before I Fall:“Oliver, in a pitch-perfect teen voice, explores the power we have to affect the people around us in this intensely believable first novel...This is a compelling book with a powerful message and should not be missed.”
School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—Liesl's father has died, and she has been locked in an attic by her cruel stepmother. To the attic comes Po, a ghost whose memory of whether it was a boy or a girl has faded in its time in the world beyond. Po meets Liesl's father on the Other Side and carries a message back: he would like his ashes to be buried next to his first wife so that he can move on. In the same town on one fateful night, the apothecary's apprentice, Will, has two errands. The first is to deliver a box containing magic that the apothecary has conjured at the commission of the powerful the Lady Premiere, magic the apothecary claims will bring the dead back to life. The second is to stop by the undertaker's for some magical ingredients. Unwittingly, Will swaps the box of magic with the one containing the ashes of Liesl's father. When the mix-up is discovered, he flees the wrath of the apothecary and the Lady Premiere. Meanwhile, with Po's help, Liesl finds an opportunity to escape the attic and her stepmother. Their paths and destinies converge in an entirely satisfying way, and the plot gains forward momentum through chance encounters and lives crossing paths. This fantasy is written with the gentle simplicity of a fable infused with a storyteller's wisdom. Acedera's black-and-white charcoal illustrations are soft, warm, and somewhat old-fashioned, adding a great deal to the charm and emotion of the story. This is a case in which the illustrations truly enhance the book and make it something more special than it otherwise would have been. A lovely tale.—Tim Wadham, Children's Literature Consultant, Fenton, MO
Kirkus Reviews

A wonderfully imaginative, startlingly moving and at times wickedly funny fantasy.

In her first work for middle-grade readers, the versatile Oliver (Before I Fall, 2010, and Delirium, 2011) deftly creates two worlds that run parallel, "like two mirrors sitting face-to-face." On the "Living Side," the sun hasn'tcome out in 1,728 days, and Liesl (about 11) has been locked in a small attic bedroom for 13 months by her conniving stepmother, Augusta. Three nights after her beloved father dies, she is visited by a child-sized ghost named Po and Bundle, a ghost-pet, both of whom come from the "Other Side," where dead souls in various stages of "becoming part of the Everything" linger till they can go "Beyond." They become unlikely best friends, and Po helps Liesl escape so she can take her father's ashes home. Meanwhile... an egomaniacal alchemist whose specialty is potions and transfigurations has created "The Most Powerful Magic in the World" for the Very Important Lady Premiere. "The dead will rise / From glade to glen / And ancient will be young again." But the alchemist's mistreated apprentice Will, an orphan, mixes up the delivery and.... By alternating quietly lyrical, philosophical passages with laugh-out-loud broad comedy/farce, the author takes her readers on a fantastic voyage from loss to healing and joy. With nods to Dahl, Dickens, the Grimms and even Burnett, the author has made something truly original. Acedera's frequent black-and-white illustrations are a perfect complement.

An irresistible read: This book sings. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Lisa Von Drasek
Teachers and librarians are always searching for an ideal read-aloud: a book with a strong narrative voice, rich language and short episodic chapters that appeals to a range of ages. The very best read-alouds manage to get listeners, young or old, emotionally invested in the story—without, however, inducing them to fits of sobbing along the way. Liesl and Po…is such a story: crowded with distinctive characters and a twisty-turny plot, and rife with words like "ineffable" as well as expletives like "scrat," making it all the more fun to read aloud.
—The New York Times Book Review
The Sunday Telegraph
“Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver brings much-needed magic to an increasingly neglected age group. It’s books like this, with its classic quest plot, intertwined with lyrical metaphysics, that can set a child up for life.”
Daily Mail (London)
“An absolute delight...Although aimed at younger readers, the lightness of touch and the tenderness of the message could make grown men weep.”
Shelf Awareness
“With her third book, Lauren Oliver (Before I Fall; Delirium) creates another highly original world, this one for middle-grade readers. Oliver introduces orphans Liesl and Will, a touch of magic, some delectable coincidences, and friendship that stretches from the Living Side to the Other Side.”
Rebecca Stead
“A gorgeous story--timeless and magical.”
Jay Asher
Praise for Before I Fall:“This story races forward, twisting in a new direction every few pages, its characters spinning my emotions from affection to frustration, anger to compassion. You’ll have no choice but to tear through this book!”
Carolyn Mackler
Praise for Before I Fall:“Before I Fall is smart, complex, and heartbreakingly beautiful. Lauren Oliver has written an extraordinary debut novel about what it means to live—and die.”

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.82(w) x 8.54(h) x 1.22(d)
830L (what's this?)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

What People are Saying About This

Rebecca Stead
“A gorgeous story—timeless and magical.”

Meet the Author

Lauren Oliver is the author of Before I Fall, which ALA Booklist called a "compelling book with a powerful message [that] should not be missed." A graduate of the University of Chicago and the MFA program at New York University, Lauren is now a full-time writer and lives in Brooklyn, New York. Delirium is her second novel.

Customer Reviews

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Liesl & Po 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 51 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Words cannot express how absolutely wonderful this book is. It actually had me in tears quite a few times. It is such a touching, sad, and beautiful story. If you can relate with the characters in this book on any level you will understand why one could be brought to tears by such a simple story. This book, of course, is written through a child's eyes, so it doesn't need to be any more complex than what it is, or else it would lose its innocence. If you really understand what is going on, you will actually realize that this book is much more complex than one may think. You just have to scratch the surface and really get into what is really going on. The author wrote this book to help her heal from a loss, and you sense that every step of the way. You really start to see the author’s struggle through the eyes of little girl, and it is so moving and relatable. The fact that it is a child's perspective on such a grown up subject matter makes it such a powerful story. If you have ever lost someone or needed a friend at any time in your life you will notice that this book has a great deal of depth to it. You really feel like you are going on an emotional journey with this little girl, who is obviously going through a bit of a depression.. At times I thought as though this book was a bit too grown up for younger readers, but I would not let that discourage anyone from letting their child read it. 9-12 is the perfect age range. I would even say that this is a wonderful book for adults too. This is truly one of those rare children’s books that is just too special to be restricted to just one age group..
BookSakeBlogspot More than 1 year ago
I'm not sure what the deal is with some middle grade stories I've read as of late, but they seem to all be written for a different age. Remember Harry Potter? That is written for 9-12 year olds. This, also aimed at 9-12 year olds, feels like something I would have read to my son before he could handle a book this size. Don't get me wrong - the story is cute, but the story is so predictable that it loses it's intriguing quality shortly after starting. In the front of the book Lauren Oliver talks about writing this book in only 2 months, which is completely understandable due to the lack of depth. OK, so now that you think I've bashed this book, let me tell you the good part. I absolutely LOVED the character of Po (and Bundle!) and the idea of being indescribable once you've crossed over to the Other Side. (For more of an explanation on that you'll have to read the book, I don't do spoilers, especially when I wouldn't do this idea justice.) Po's state of being and his character development, especially for a ghost, are both wonderful. There is no shortage of colorful characters and I can imagine reading this aloud and doing all the different voices as a bed time story (the kind you continue on night after night, since it's longer than the usual read-out-loud-at-bedtime-story). The artwork within the pages adds to the books uniqueness and kids will love to see the what the characters look like on the pages. ARC Reviewed by Jessica for Book Sake.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book enchanted me--especially the character of Po, a ghost-like character unlike any I've read in a children's book. Its fast pace appeals to imaginitive kids who like a dark, magical story. Adults will enjoy the more cerebral parts pertaining to the "Other World." The illustrations look great on nook, but I think I want the hard copy of this one as a keepsake.
skstiles612 More than 1 year ago
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 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.
AcesMommy More than 1 year ago
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, 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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the nicest teenage book that i've read!!!!!!
Bookwoorm More than 1 year ago
A poetic account of a simple story.
damarisc123 More than 1 year ago
I was never really into audio books and didn't think I would like them. It wasn't until I got my first audio book for Christmas one year that I realized just how easy, and convenient it is to have an audio of your favorite book, or of any book period. When I got the chance to review Liesl & Po in audio format, I was really excited. I really liked the way Jim Dale narrated the story. When I read the actual book by itself, I have to say I wasn¿t really into it. I felt the characters really weren¿t that exciting. However, listening to the audio version made me enjoy the story a lot more. Jim Dale really brought the characters to life. I wasn¿t really a fan of Po until I listened to this CD. He put a good deal of emphasis into each characters attitude. I listened to maybe three chapters a day and never really lost interest in the story. I will admit that when I read the actual book, I couldn¿t finish it. I just wasn¿t really that into it, and I felt that for a middle grade book, it was a little too mature. But I did finish the audio book and now know how the story ends. I have to say I enjoyed it a lot more. I wish I would have finished reading the book in the first place now that I know how everything plays out. Audio: 5 out of 5 Stars! Story: 4 out of 5 Stars!
Anonymous 8 months ago
Havent read it yet but most of the reviewa are good,plus I've never seen a book with 13 editorial reviews!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hello. I'm lonely. Don't ask why I'm here. Please.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You approach the door and extend a hand to the handle to open it. A bolt zaps you back, a few quarters from your possesion rolling from your body and away into the doorframe, lost forever. <p> Go Back To 'vi' result one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I cannot wait to read this. All your reveiws are great. This year at my school this was nominated an Indian Paintbrush books. Cannot wait to read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Its a good book very exiting
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This book is amazing with the grafics and how they stated it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the most realistic fiction books in history its packed with new things its phonominal
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What is with the cat things in the coments?
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book!!!
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