Young Liesl lives in her attic bedroom, locked there by her stepmother (the quintessential evil stepmother) since her beloved father died. One night, a ghost named Po appears in her room, and the two lonely souls find comfort in each other and become friends.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the city, a young orphan named Will, who is apprenticed to a cruel alchemist, mixes up two wooden boxes and delivers them to the wrong recipients, with dire consequences. The two desperate children each set out on their own quests to right wrongs, and their destinies eventually intertwine in a magical story about friendship and family.
I really enjoyed this engaging adventure story, with surprises around every corner. It reminded me a bit, in tone and subject matter, of Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book, though Liesl and Po has a wholly unique plot. Po is a gentle, kind sort of ghost, but the bad guys in this story are truly evil, in fairy tale style. In the end, good triumphs over evil, and every character gets what he or she deserves in a satisfying conclusion.
I thoroughly enjoyed the audio book, performed by the very talented Jim Dale (narrator of the Harry Potter audios and many other excellent audio books). However, I just saw on Amazon that the paper book is illustrated with beautiful pencil drawings, so I think that either format would be an excellent choice for middle-grade readers and their families. You can listen to a sample of the audio here.
This video provides a peek at the beautiful illustrations:
Video Trailer for Liesl and Po
And here is a wonderful video interview with Lauren Oliver about the writing of Liesl and Po:
Interview with Lauren Oliver