Lauren Oliver, New York Times bestselling author of books Before I Fall, Delirium, and Liesl and Po, is coming to the Philippines this March to launch her newest book, Pandemonium.

I’m scheduled for an interview, so I’m reading her books in preparation, starting with her children’s story, Liesl and Po.

 


Liesl and Po is about a little girl (Liesl) imprisoned in an attic by her evil stepmother. Liesl is overcome with grief over her father’s recent passing, until she gets a visit from a traveler from the “Other Side,” a lonely ghost named Po, with whom she forms an unlikely friendship.

That very same night, Will, the alchemist’s apprentice, is making his way through the city in the cold of twilight, bearing an important package. The distracted Will makes a blunder with the delivery, and the mix-up brings him right in the path of Liesl and Po.

The characters are just lovely! Liesl is sad but hopeful, and I can easily relate to her, having lost my dad at a young age also. Po is delightfully strange and is a constant revelation; and Will is so boyishly charming and darn-tooting cute! The baddies start out somewhat sinister, but they pack in some comic relief as they get their comeuppance. The kids get also get some unexpected help along the way, in the form of Mo, a great hulk of a man with a big heart and a fondness for chocolate milk.

It’s one of those quaint, old-fashioned tales about friendship and love and hope. It’s part ghost story, part adventure, and even part fairy tale, reminiscent of children’s novels by Eva Ibbotson and Cornelia Funke, but with a magic that is entirely its own.

I do love Dickensian tales — they appeal to the child in me and remind me that there’s still some good left in this world. They’re getting harder to find on bookstore shelves these days, so it’s always refreshing to come across one.

And I must mention this: I also adored Filipino artist Kei Acedera’s illustrations for the book, too, whimsical and soulful and so full of character (that illustration at the top of this post is enough to make me cry). I was amazed to find out she was part of the team that designed the characters in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, and she’s illustrated some picture books too! I look forward to seeing more of her work on print.


I’m making my way through a stack of Lauren Oliver’s books, and I picked Liesl and Po first, as it’s the genre I’m most comfortable with. But I’ve started reading Before I Fall, too, and I’m reading on through Delirium and Pandemonium before I get them signed!

Join Lauren Oliver as she launches her newest book, Pandemonium, on March 25, 3 pm, at Powerbooks, Greenbelt 4. As an added treat, fans will get a rare chance to be up close and personal with Lauren Oliver. Lucky fans will be invited to a private lunch party with the bestselling author: just e-mail NBS “5 Questions You Would Ask Lauren Oliver.”  For more details on Lauren Oliver in Manila, visit the NBS Facebook page.

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Liesl and Po, trade paperback, 4/5 stars
Lauren Oliver books are available at National Book Store, Powerbooks and Bestsellers.