'Liesl & Po' by Lauren Oliver

Special to Tribune Newspapers

'Liesl & Po'
By Lauren Oliver
HarperCollins, $16.99, ages 8-12

"On the third night after the day her father died, Liesl saw the ghost." Happily, this ghost is more complicated than Casper. "Po" (from the "Other Side," where things are much "blurrier") provides much needed company to Liesl, whose stepmother has locked her in a garret. (Think Frances Hodgson Burnett's "A Little Princess" or the Grimms' fairy tales.) Outside the garret, a hungry, skinny alchemist's apprentice, Will, yearns for the girl he sees at the window. Eventually (through cities, forests, on trains) Liesl, Po and Will race toward freedom of all sorts. Reads as quickly as a caper flick, yet generates thoughtful reflection on belonging and loving.

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