Thursday, August 3, 2017

Audiobook Review: Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver

Title: Liesl & Po
Author: Lauren Oliver
Publication Date: October 4, 2011
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 307
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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.

From New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver comes a luminous and magnificent novel that glows with rare magic, ghostly wonders, and a true friendship that lights even the darkest of places.

Liesl has been locked in the attic by her stepmother ever since her father got sick. Her beloved father passed away three days ago, and Liesl is in mourning when suddenly she notices something moving in the shadows. She is visited by Po and their companion, Bundle, from the Other Side. Meanwhile, Will, an alchemist's apprentice and bungler of all things important, accidentally misplaces a box of very powerful magic. Through mishap after mishap, Liesl and Will have to team up with Po and Bundle to keep the magic from the evil Lady Premiere and bring Liesl's father (and his spirit) to his final resting place.

One of the reasons that I occasionally enjoy reading middle grade novels is that everything is simpler in the innocence of childhood. There are no brooding romances to deal with, and if the world needs saving, it is usually handled with humor and shenanigans. That is exactly what Liesl & Po delivered, but also with some touching lessons about love and loss that people of all ages can appreciate.

The characters in this book were so dynamic and wonderful. Liesl was determined and strong, but also an artist and a dreamer with her head in the clouds. Will was hilariously clumsy and generally bad at everything. Po and Bundle were quirky and cute and made you love them right from the start. I was rooting for everyone to succeed in this book (except for the evil Lady Premiere and Liesl's stepmother, of course).

I am very torn about my suggestion for which medium to choose to read this book. The audiobook was lovely, and was narrated by Jim Dale, the narrator of all the Harry Potter books, and in my opinion, the greatest narrator of all time. He has a fantastic way of giving each character their own personality, and listening to him felt nostalgic and really sucked me into the story. However, I missed out on what are apparently wonderful illustrations in the physical copy. After reading the book, I saw a few of the illustrations, and I wish I had been able to see them while I was reading. It would have added so much more to the story. I am happy I read the audiobook, but I would love to check out the physical copy as well.

Ultimately, Liesl & Po was a wonderful little book that explored the innocence of childhood and what it means to grow up. It dealt with love and loss beautifully, while also maintaining some adventure and humor. I primarily read YA works, but I think a part of my heart will always belong to middle grade. Liesl & Po is a perfect example of why I love these types of stories. There is so much that can be said and learned about the world through the eyes of a child. Sometimes we all get too caught up in growing up and living our adult lives, and we forget to look around and notice the magic surrounding us every day. It's nice to be reminded of the little joys in life, and Liesl & Po did just that.