Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver

a review by Nalini Haynes

Liesl of Liesl & Po is a little girl locked in an attic room. Po is a ghost who comes to visit her when she stops drawing; he misses her drawings. When Liesl’s father died, his ashes were put in a wooden box. Po helped Liesl escape the attic room, in order to lay Liesl’s father to rest. Will is an orphan adopted by an alchemist in order to be his slave. The alchemist put the most powerful magic in the world in a wooden box to be delivered to the Lady Premiere. There was a mix-up with the boxes.

As is the case with children’s books, too much said here and there is little point reading the novel. The characters are engaging, the plot builds up well to a dramatic climax, all of which are suitable for primary and middle school aged children. Even though there are ghosts, the story is suitable for all except possibly the most sensitive child.

Not quite a picture book, and yet not devoid of art, Liesl & Po includes a series of what I think are either ink paintings or watercolours in grey scale. These are charming, adding life and expression to a number of scenes.

Liesl & Po is a Lemony Snickett-flavoured Cinderella story where Cinders is creative and active in her own story, she just needs a little help from her friends. This is a delightful children’s story, highly recommended for children and those who enjoy good children’s books. I thought Liesl & Po was like fruit cake – fruity, nutty, not too sweet, not too sour and a quite satisfying snack.

Originally published in Dark Matter issue 6, November 2011.  This blog has been pre-dated to reflect the date of original publication.