Violet & Daisy: The Story of Vaudeville’s Famous Conjoined Twins

Schwartz & Wade/Random/. Apr. 2021. 320p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780593119723.
Gr 6-8–Violet and Daisy Hilton were white conjoined twins born in 1908 to an unmarried woman in Brighton, England. In this era, medical professionals did not treat most birth defects and assumed the babies would die. Kate Skinner, their 21-year-old mother, wanted nothing to do with the girls. Mary Hilton, Skinner’s midwife, saw an opportunity to capitalize on the twins’ condition. Hilton adopted the sisters and put them on display. After appearing in carnivals and exhibitions in England and Australia, Violet and Daisy were taken to the United States. They became vaudeville stars and retired in their 40s. They eventually lived quiet lives in Charlotte, NC, and worked in a grocery store. This is a sad story, full of people who sought to take advantage of two children and use them for personal gain. Miller is quite frank in her delivery; she explains that the facts she includes might be “ballyhoo” or lies because Violet and Daisy liked to paint a rosy picture of their difficult experiences. Middle grade readers will appreciate the pictures, which help contextualize the dense text.
VERDICT Miller provides a peculiar narrative nonfiction work that may capture the interest of curious readers, but the extensive text is overly detailed.

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