Miss Spitfire By Sarah Miller

“Those five famous tots

in Callander, Ontario, are the

little princesses of the entire world.”

When they were born on May 28, 1934, weighing a grand total of just over 13 pounds, no one expected them to live so much as an hour. Overnight, Yvonne, Annette, Cécile, Émilie, and Marie Dionne captivated the world, defying medical history with every breath they took.

In an effort to protect them from hucksters and showmen, the Ontario government took custody of the five identical babies, sequestering them in a private, custom-built hospital across the road from their family — and then, in a stunning act of hypocrisy, proceeded to exploit them for the next nine years. The Dionne Quintuplets became a more popular attraction than Niagara Falls, ogled through one-way screens by sightseers as they splashed in their wading pool at the center of a tourist hotspot known as Quintland. Their faces sold everything from Baby Ruth candy bars to Colgate toothpaste.

In this masterful work of narrative nonfiction, Sarah Miller examines the lives of five identical sisters forced to endure the most publicized childhood in history — and how they survived their turbulent teenage years to forge identities of their own. Impeccably researched, with photos of the Dionnes from birth through adulthood, this is an enthralling, heartbreaking portrait of a unique sisterhood, imbued with the astonishing resilience of the human spirit.

Annette, Yvonne, Cécile, Émilie, and Marie Dionne holding candles, 1938
Annette, Yvonne, Cécile, Émilie, and Marie Dionne, 1938
Miss Spitfire By Sarah Miller

The Miracle and Tragedy of the Dionne Quintuplets

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“Throughout, Miller avoids a sensational tone, and her fresh and detailed reconstruction of this famous story is riveting — part tabloid story, part poignant biography.”

~ New York Times

“[A] thorough, fascinating deep dive into the lives of five girls who captured the attention of millions.”

~ Booklist, starred review

“Miller demonstrates herself once again to be

a dab hand at examining a historic media frenzy

and analyzing the legacy of its lore”

~ Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, starred review

“As much exposé as biography, Miller’s book is a propulsive account of what life in that hospital was like for the girls.”

~ The Horn Book Magazine, starred review

“An altogether fresh, perceptive, well-written chronicle

of this cautionary tale.”

~ Kirkus

“Miller presents multiple viewpoints with sensitivity, enmeshing the reader in the Dionnes’ lives so successfully that it is impossible not to feel the tragedy of the quintuplets’ lives.”

~ Publisher’s Weekly

“Miller’s style is captivating and enchanting,

as well as respectful.”

~ School Library Journal


Amazon Editors’ Choice, August 2019

Bookish.com Book Club pick, August 2019

Booklist starred review

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books starred review

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books Blue Ribbon Book 2019

Horn Book Magazine starred review

Junior Library Guild selection

VOYA starred review

Youth Services Book Review starred review


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