Wednesday 9 May 2012

130. Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver

Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver
Published May 2012 Hachette

From the publisher:
'On the third night after the day her father died, Liesl saw the ghost.' 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 appears from the darkness. It is Po, who comes from the Other Side. Both Liesl and Po are lonely, but together they are less alone. That same night, an alchemist's apprentice, Will, bungles an important delivery. He accidentally switches a box containing the most powerful magic in the world with one containing something decidedly less remarkable. Will's mistake has tremendous consequences for Liesl and Po, and it draws the three of them together on an extraordinary journey. 

Liesl's spends her days (and nights) in the attic bedroom, she reads and draws and sleeps, but she is never allowed to leave.  Twice a day she is  bought food, that is usually little more than stale bread and bouillon soup.  The world outside is not a much better place to be is is cold, dark and often wet. In the alchemist's search for The Most Powerful Magic in the World he had to source ingredients such as, a perfect snowflake, the laughter of a child, and the most difficult ingredient of all: pure sunlight (1cup), for 5 years the alchemist took all of the sunlight until he perfected the spell, as a consequence the sun had not come out in 1,728 days.

After the death of her Father, Po, a ghostly figure (neither a boy or a girl) visits Liesl from the Other Side.  This is just what Liesl needs, a way to say goodbye to her Father, so she enlists Po's help to pass on her message. The message that comes back to her that her Father wants to go 'home' and it's Liesl's job to take him there.

Here their journey begins, with Po's ghostly intervention Liesl takes the box containing her Father's ashes and flees, not realising that there has been a mix up.  He box actually contains The Most Powerful Magic in the World, and her Father;s ashes are with the less than pleased Lady Premier.  So, Liesl is on her way to the red house with the willow tree, Will, the alchemist's apprentice is running away as he is responsible for the mix up, and hot on their trail are the Lady Premier, the alchemist, Liesl's stepmother Augusta and Mo, who just wants to give Will a hat to keep his head warm.

The two runaways meet and they embark on their journey together.  They meet more trouble on their way, more people who join the chase to capture the pair, and the box once again falls into the wrong hands.  They make their way to the red house with the willow tree, but will Liesl be able to put her Father to rest?

When reading the book, despite all of the trouble the pair get themselves in to,and the horrible people they encountered,  I never worried that they wouldn't find a way out.  Maybe it was because of characters like Po and Bundle, or Mo, who never gave up on them, no matter how difficult things got.  To me there was a real sense of hope in the book.  Yes, bad and  terrible things happen to people, in fiction and in real life, but if we are lucky enough to have people who care about us, and look out for us it is possible to get through the dark times and hopefully the sun will, one day, come back.

Who will like this book: boys and girls age 9+
Read it if you like: The Flint Heart by Katherine Paterson

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