What I like about middle grade is that it doesn’t shy away from tough subjects.

Take Lolo’s Light by Liz Garton Scanlon for example. In this book, Millie finally gets to babysit Lolo, the adorable baby of the family next door. Tess, Millie’s older sister, usually looks after the perfect baby (and the perfect babysitting job, just staying with Lolo while she sleeps), but Millie is finally asked to do it. The next morning, Millie wakes up and everything has changed – Lolo has unexplainedly died in her sleep.

“It’s not Millie’s fault. There’s nothing she could have done. And there’s nothing she can do now. So how does she go on?”

Spoiler or not, Lolo doesn’t die while Millie is there. I feel that should have been made clear before you pick up the book; however, Millie can’t help but wonder if she was a better babysitter, if she was Tess, would it have happened? Millie’s grief felt so real. You could understand what she was feeling, understand why she pulled away from her friends, why she was behaving the way she was. As an adult reading Millie’s story, you could see what was happening and you wanted to help Millie (much like her parents try to without the benefit of being in Millie’s head) and let her know it’s OK to be mad and be sad, but it’s also OK to still laugh and to still live.

What a fantastic, but sad and powerful story. A great book to help kids learn about grief.

Lolo’s Light is from Raincoast Books and Chronicle Kids and retails for $24.99.