Author: Lauren Oliver
Artist: Kei Acedera
Genre: Fantasy / Friendship
Year Published: 2011
Year Read: 2012
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton Ltd
Content Rating: Ages 8+ (Supernatural Themes)
“A Tale about a mix-up that changes several characters’ lives forever!”
For many years now, I have been reading the “Harry Potter” series by J.K. Rowling and I really enjoyed every single one of them! Now, I have found this quite unusual book (thanks to my friends!) called “Liesl and Po” by Lauren Oliver along with illustrations by Kei Acedera and boy, was it an enjoyable ride that I would not mind reading about again!
The story starts off with a young orphaned girl named Liesl being able to see a ghost named Po along with its cat/dog companion Bundle and how she became fast friends with the ghost. As the story unfolds, we are also introduced to a young orphaned boy named Will who is an apprentice to a well-known alchemist and how he was sent on retrieving an important box that contained great magic made by the alchemist. Unfortunately, Will accidentally mixed up the box containing the great magic with another box that had Liesl’s father’s ashes in it! To further add to the mix-up, after Po tells Liesl that her father, who had died years ago, wanted Liesl to put his ashes near the old willow tree at their old home, Liesl decided to go on a journey to her old home to put her father’s ashes near the willow tree, when in reality, she had the box containing the magic created by the alchemist!
Understanding the story so far? Do not worry; it will start making sense when you read this book!
The reason why I mentioned “Harry Potter” earlier was because this book was really similar to “Harry Potter” as both books have fantasy elements, an intense story and gorgeous illustrations that accompany the story. Probably the best thing about this book was Lauren Oliver’s writing style for this story as each chapter focuses on a different character, but each character arc slowly builds up to a larger story towards the end. Lauren Oliver has done a brilliant job at developing each character in this story as we feel sympathy for both Liesl and Will as not only are they orphans, but they are hunted just because they were carrying a box that supposedly has great magic in it and they did not know about how important the box was. I also loved the supernatural elements in this book as there are ghosts and magic galore and it really brings a creative streak to the story (especially for me since I love reading about supernatural elements!) and having a ghost as a best friend was a truly unique way of telling a ghost story where the ghost actually helps the main character! Kei Acedera’s illustrations are reminiscent of the illustrations in the “Harry Potter” books and they are extremely beautiful to look at. I always loved the two page panels of the illustrations done by Kei Acedera, especially the image of Liesl’s old home as you can see a gorgeous looking willow tree near a pond on the left side of the page and then an old moss covered house on the right side of the page. The black and white colorings of the illustrations really bring out the dramatic tensions shown in the story and make the story even more effective to read through.
The reason why I gave this book a four star rating is because I felt that there were many scenes where the book moved too slowly in pace. The beginning started off really slow and I was waiting for something exciting to really happen to the characters. It was not until the second half of the book that the story really started to pick up and even though I loved the second half of the book, I wished that there were more dramatic scenes regarding the characters.
Overall, “Liesl and Po” is definitely one book to check out if you are a huge fan of the “Harry Potter” books and you also love children’s books that deal with supernatural themes! Since this is my first book by Lauren Oliver, I am definitely looking forward to reading more of her works in the future!