The Miracle & Tragedy of the Dionne Quintuplets

by Sarah Miller

The birth of Yvonne, Annette, Cécile, Êmilie, and Marie Dionne on May 28,... read more

The birth of Yvonne, Annette, Cécile, Êmilie, and Marie Dionne on May 28, 1934, in a small Ontario village shocked their unsuspecting parents and quickly captivated the world. With initial focus on the tiny babies’ survival, the village doctor and a rotating schedule of nurses were soon managing their care. Eventually, the government built a compound across the road from their home where the girls lived until age nine, given ample attention but little open affection from the adults who managed their regimented routine. Put on display daily for tourists who came from across Canada and the United States, visits with their poor, rural, French-speaking parents—offered little sympathy from the government or media-shaped public opinion—were increasingly controlled. There was money to be made through product endorsements, appearances, tourism and souvenirs, and many benefitted from the exploitation. By the time the government returned custody to their parents, they were essentially strangers to their family, as their family was to them. Through continuing challenges and fear, they relied, as always, on one another, still smiling for the camera on demand. Laying out facts, complexities and contradictions, Miller allows readers to draw their own conclusions about the motivations and actions of individuals and institutions that shaped the quintuplets’ lives. Ample black-and- white photographs accompany this meticulously researched, riveting work that follows them into adulthood. (Age 11 and older)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2020

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