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Liesl & Po

by Lauren Oliver
Illustrated by Kei Acedera

Published by Harper/HarperCollins, 2011
307 pages
ISBN: trade 978𢠢62014511

Ages 8-12

Orphans, magic, alchemy, and ghosts abound in Lauren Oliver抯 first venture into middle-grade fiction. Liesl抯 evil stepmother has kept her locked in the attic for months, during which time her father died. Po, a ghost child with no memory of life before dying, and Bundle, a ghost animal, bring Liesl news of her father from the Other Side (a hopeless limbo): He wants to go home. Meanwhile, Will, apprentice to a cruel alchemist, bungles the delivery of an important magical spell when he inadvertently switches it for Liesl抯 father抯 ashes. Liesl, determined to bury her father next to her mother抯 grave at their old home in the mountains, escapes with Po抯 and Bundle抯 help, making off with what she thinks are the ashes but in fact is the box filled with powerful magic. Will, on the run from a guard for the Lady Premiere梚ntended recipient of the magic梕ventually meets up with Liesl in a story in which fate is an ever-present player. While the man chasing Will only wants to give him a warm hat, the other adults梟asty through and through梖igure out the ashes/magic mix-up and are quickly on the children抯 trail with far more sinister intentions. The chase, near misses, and last-minute escapes make for exciting reading while Liesl and Will抯 developing friendship, and Po抯 and Bundle need to end their aimless wandering, add poignant notes to a story in which all the pieces fall into place like a well-designed puzzle.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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