The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg


The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

Late at night on Christmas Eve, after the entire town has gone to sleep, a small boy waits up to hear something he is told he will never hear…. the sleigh bells on Santa’s reindeer. Instead, he hears a different, equally unexpected sound…. the grinding and hissing of an old steam train stopping in front of his house. The Polar Express has arrived to take him to the North Pole. Whisked away through towns and cities, through deep dark forests and into the far north, they finally arrive at the North Pole, a beautiful hidden city filled with the sights, smells and sounds of Christmas.

Once there, the boy is chosen by Santa himself to receive the very first gift of Christmas. Being told he can chose anything he wants, the boy choses the gift of his hearts desire….. a bell from Santa’s sleigh.

Written 25 years ago, this book has grown into a classic, with good reason. Beautifully written and illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg, The Polar Express speaks of the pure magic and delight of the season. It leaves behind a world of materialism and cynicism and conjures a moment of belief and wonder. While it was made into a film a few years ago, I thoroughly recommend, in fact I insist, that you read this eloquent, gentle picture book, and share it with the entire family. The simplicity and innocence of the story and the beauty of the illustrations will warm your hearts on cold winter nights. The Polar Express is a powerful seasonal tradition in our house. It’s tender message speaks most poigniantly to those of us who can no longer hear the perfect clarity of the bell.

The Polar Express has had numerous reprintings since 1985. It is now available as a paperback picturebook with CD read by Liam Neeson.

Reviewed by Mary Esther Judy

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This website was created by Jill Holtz and Michelle Davitt, both of whom are mothers of young children. Jill and Michelle decided to create this resource themselves, and launched in 2007.