Welcome to my blog. I often think I was born with a book in my hand. I have always enjoyed reading, but more importantly, talking about books. This blog is partially about reviews, but is really a forum to talk about what I'm reading, and express all of the thoughts and feelings that there simply isn't room for in a professional review. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on your favourite books as you follow my reading journey.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Liesl and Po: An Enchanting Fairy Tale Classic

Once upon a time, there was a little girl named Liesl. Although her mother died when she was quite young, she and her father had a wonderful and happy life. Then her father re-married, and everything changed. Her Stepmother was a mean and cruel woman who locked Liesl in the attic when her father became ill, and refused to allow her to say goodbye. Grieving and lonely, Liesl is surprised one night by a ghost named Po. The pair quickly become friends, and with Po's help, Liesl escapes from the attic and embarks on a journey to bury her father's ashes beside her mother at the cozy cottage where they had been so happy together.

Along the way, Liesl accidentally comes into possession of a box of powerful magic, and finds herself pursued by the alchemist who created it, her evil stepmother, and a host of other characters who all want what she possesses.

First of all, WOW! Seriously WOW! I love Lauren Oliver's YA work, but her new middle-grade novel (releasing in September from HarperCollins) is absolutely ineffable.  Reminiscent of Dickensian London, the world that Liesl inhabits is cold and colourless with few bright spots. Liesl herself is a ghostly looking child, and since the death of her father three days before the start of the book, the colour that once existed in her drawings seems to have left her as well.

She is the kind of character you want to reach out and hug, and her lonlieness is palpable. Po, neither girl nor boy (gender is vague on "The Other Side") appears just at the moment Liesl most needs a friend, and helps her to get the closure she needs in order to heal. The adults of the piece are mostly villians, and they are as wicked as the most wicked of fairy tale characters. Only the bumbling security guard has any goodness in him, and he is pure of heart and close to childlike himself.

At its most basic, this story is a story about overcoming grief, and for anyone who has ever lost someone or something that they loved, the book offers gentle and reassuring messages about death. But more than that,  it is a story about courage, hope, friendship and love, and about bringing the colour back into your world when things are at their most grey and lonely. 

The design is beautiful and the writing lyrical, and this is a story that just begs to be read aloud and treasured.  This book will quietly work its way into your heart until you reach the end, and realize that it is magical in itself.