starlighttourroneStarlight in Tourrone by Suzanne Butler, 1965.

This is a story about a group of children in southern France during the middle of the 20th century, not too long after World War II, who want to stage a special Nativity scene at Christmas. One of the older men in the small village of Tourrone tells his grandchildren about how, when he was young, the village had held a live Nativity scene at the chapel on the hill with the youngest baby in the village playing the part of the Christ child and his mother playing Mary. Then, all the people in the town would climb the hill to the chapel and present gifts to Mary and the baby Jesus in a ceremony called the March to the Star.

However, these traditions have been lost because, following World War II, the village has lost much of its population, and the chapel is an unused ruin. The children and their friends, inspired by the grandfather’s stories, decide that they want to hold the March to the Star and the Nativity scene this year.

starlighttourronemarchAt first, most of the adults in the village are skeptical. Since there are no young couples living there anymore and no babies have been born there for several years, no one knows where the mother and child for the Nativity scene will come from. Many of the adults are too busy with their own problems and worries about the future to help. Still, the children continue to work faithfully on their plans, drawing in the adults in spite of themselves.

starlighttourronepreparationsstarlighttourronelanternJust as people in the village start to feel hopeful again, something happens that threatens to ruin everything, but there is still one more miracle yet to come, thanks in part to the one person who never doubted it would happen.

It’s a beautiful story about the power of faith and how miracles come to those who are prepared for them. The last page of the book contains the music for the Provencal Carol that the children sing along with the English translation.

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