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The Polar Express
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The Polar Express

4.2 294
by Chris Van Allsburg

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The Polar Express is a treasured holiday tradition. This lavish gift set includes a CD audio recording read by Liam Neeson, a keepsake "All Aboard" ornament, and a note from author Chris Van Allsburg.

Awarded the prestigious Caldecott Medal in 1986, The Polar Express has sold more than 7 million copies, become a


The Polar Express is a treasured holiday tradition. This lavish gift set includes a CD audio recording read by Liam Neeson, a keepsake "All Aboard" ornament, and a note from author Chris Van Allsburg.

Awarded the prestigious Caldecott Medal in 1986, The Polar Express has sold more than 7 million copies, become a classic holiday movie, and been translated into stage productions that take place across the United States during the holiday season.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Even the most hardened Santa doubters might find in The Polar Express the faith to believe again." American Bookseller

"As always, the forms are sculptured, the perspectives as dazzling as they are audacious, the colors rich and elegant, the use of light and shadow masterly." Horn Book Guide

"The Polar Express is magic indeed." The New York Times

"The sumptuous pastel effects-train lights seen through falling snow and a vertiginous overhead view, from Santa's sleigh, of his popular city-make this one of Van Allsburg's most treasured visions." Newsweek

"One couldn't select a more delightful and exciting premise for a children's book than the tale of a young boy lying awake on Christmas Eve only to have Santa Claus sweep by and take him on a trip with other children to the North Pole. And one couldn't ask for a more talented artist and writer to tell the story than Chris Van Allsburg. Van Allsburg, a sculptor who entered the genre nonchalantly when he created a children's book as a diversion from his sculpting, won the 1986 Caldecott Medal for this book, one of several award winners he's produced. The Polar Express rings with vitality and wonder." Amazon.com

Publishers Weekly
Several treasured titles make a comeback as reissues. In preparation for the November release of the book-based film starring Tom Hanks, Houghton has reshot the artwork for the 1986 Caldecott Medal- winning The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg, sprucing up this perennial holiday favorite. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
A young man tells a story of his childhood and how his belief in Santa comes to life one snowy Christmas Eve. Although his friends tell him "there is no Santa," he still believes he will hear the bells of Santa's sleigh. Those beliefs come true when the Polar Express takes him to the North Pole. When they come to the North Pole, Santa chooses the protagonist to be the recipient of the first gift of Christmas. The boy wants something small and meaningful: a bell from Santa's sleigh. The bell symbolizes the belief in Santa and the spirit of Christmas, and only those who believe can hear the magical sound of the bell. The thrilling story along with detailed and colorful illustrations can make anyone believe in the spirit of Christmas. This twentieth anniversary edition includes illustrations that are filled with amazing contrasts of light and dark, making the pictures feel alive. The detailed words and artwork on every page, make readers feel as if they also are living the dreams of the little boy. 2005 (orig. 1985), Houghton Mifflin, Ages 5 to 10.
—Liz Martin
School Library Journal
Gr 1-3 Given a talented and aggressive imagination, even the challenge of as cliche-worn a subject as Santa Claus can be met effectively. Van Allsburg's Polar Express is an old-fashioned steam train that takes children to the North Pole on Christmas Eve to meet the red-suited gentleman and to see him off on his annual sleigh ride. This is a personal retelling of the adult storyteller's adventures as a youngster on that train. The telling is straight, thoughtfully clean-cut and all the more mysterious for its naive directness; the message is only a bit less direct: belief keeps us young at heart. The full-page images are theatrically lit. Colors are muted, edges of forms are fuzzy, scenes are set sparsely, leaving the details to the imagination. The light comes only from windows of buildings and the train or from a moon that's never depicted. Shadows create darkling spaces and model the naturalistic figures of children, wolves, trees, old-fashioned furniture and buildings. Santa Claus and his reindeer seem like so many of the icons bought by parents to decorate yards and rooftops: static, posed with stereotypic gestures. These are scenes from a memory of long ago, a dreamy reconstruction of a symbolic experience, a pleasant remembrance rebuilt to fufill a current wish: if only you believe, you too will hear the ringing of the silver bell that Santa gave him and taste rich hot chocolate in your ride through the wolf-infested forests of reality. Van Allsburg's express train is one in which many of us wish to believe. Kenneth Marantz, Art Education Department, Ohio State University, Columbus

Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Edition description:
Anniversary Edition
Product dimensions:
9.10(w) x 11.50(h) x 0.50(d)
520L (what's this?)
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

Read an Excerpt

"On Christmas Eve, many years ago, I lay quietly in my bed. I did not rustle the sheets. I breathed slowly and silently. I was listening for a sound—a sound a friend had told me I'd never hear—the ringing bells of Santa's sleigh. 'There is no Santa,' my friend had insisted, but I knew he was wrong. Late that night I did hear sounds, though not of ringing bells. From outside came the sounds of hissing steam and squeaking metal. I looked through my window and saw a train standing perfectly still in from of my house."

Copyright (C) 1985 by Chris Van Allsburg. All rights reserved.


Meet the Author

Chris Van Allsburg is the winner of two Caldecott Medals, for Jumanji and The Polar Express, as well as the recipient of a Caldecott Honor Book for The Garden of Abdul Gasazi. The author and illustrator of numerous picture books for children, he has also been awarded the Regina Medal for lifetime achievement in children’s literature. In 1982, Jumanji was nominated for a National Book Award and in 1996, it was made into a popular feature film. Chris Van Allsburg is a former instructor at the Rhode Island School of Design.

Brief Biography

Providence, Rhode Island
Date of Birth:
June 18, 1949
Place of Birth:
Grand Rapids, Michigan
University of Michigan College of Architecture & Design, 1972; Rhode Island School of Design, MFA, 1975

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

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The Polar Express 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 294 reviews.
Jillybean226 More than 1 year ago
I had never read The Polar Express before downloading it on my NOOKcolor. It was a little more money than I'll usually spend on a NOOKbook, but I figured since it was such a classic, I'd give it a try. I am SO glad I got it! The "Read to Me" is beautiful. Narrated by Liam Neeson, the audio track has voice, music, and even sound effects. My two-year-old sat through almost the whole story the first time we listened to the "Read to Me" together. A wonderful family experience - I highly, highly recommend this book!
DOLORES VASQUEZ More than 1 year ago
Everyone knows this is a good story, but why the high cost? Might as well buy the book which will last a life time vs this reader that will eventually be an out dated device. *gave low star rating due to price*
Melissa Clinton More than 1 year ago
I agree for an Ebook 18 to 19 dollars is way too much, I didnt buy it, I would have but not for that price. I would rather get in paper.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this story i always have,always will. But 19 dollars?!?!? If you want to read this book, i would suggest going to a library
Estefano Marcalain More than 1 year ago
its way to expensive my mom has the kindle and she got it for 3 dollars
Joyce Bazydlo More than 1 year ago
I would be out of my mind to pay this much for this book! At the library its Free on cd or tape! I have the book and the movie! It is a truly amazing and magical story, but it is WAY too expensive! I took my son on the polar express train ride, a real train, the story was read the waiters danced and gave out hot chocolate it was great! And it didnt cost this much for his ticket! Sad that they would charge this much, shame on them!
Arcoth More than 1 year ago
I am writing this on my color nook, so i will be brief. i know that publishers set the price. i suppose the idea is it is worth more in color...but as a classic it should be cheaper, not moere expensive. Shame on the publisher. To answer the comment on how much is a child's smile worth? it's worth buying five OTHER books that's what it is worth.
nkechi ikejiofor More than 1 year ago
it costs so much!!
FantasyGirl13 More than 1 year ago
Awsome but $18 is to much
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wayyyyyyy to expensive - stop trying to rip us off
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One reviewer mentioned recording your own voice...this is only on nook tablet, but great book with beautiful narration and background music.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the best christmas book ever! I got this Christmas eve 11 years ago. Every Christmas eve since my dad sits down with me (I'm now 18) and my older brother and sister and we hear the story of the polar express. And we still here the bell ringing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bought the Nook book for $9.99...beautiful book but it's read VERY slowly with lots of giant pauses so my toddler lost interest pretty quickly. Otherwise, it's a great book.
Luv2ReadJV More than 1 year ago
I know some people feel this ebook is too expensive at $18.95, but I feel differently. It's so beautiful on my new NOOK HD+. It has a huge screen with great resolution. And Liam Neeson's narration makes it even better. When my hardcover version got tattered from wear, I found out my digital book would live on in my library, no many how many NOOKs I buy over the years. That's a great savings! Merry Christmas, everyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a beautiful book!! I'm 45 but always loved this story for years now. The read to me feature is wonderfully narrated nd you can record your voice for your loved ones. I'm reading this from my Nook Tablet.
quadt More than 1 year ago
This ebook is fine. It's a short children's book of about 15 pages; Why, why, why can't B&N include the # of pages in the ebook description. That said, it seems high priced for what you get, ebooks should be cheaper than physical. Again the book is fine, illustrations are ok too, however the "read to me" feature in this book is excruciatingly slow! Ah.... I want to choke the reader! Then if your kids happen to touch the screen while your waiting for the guy to finish the page, you have to go back or forward and start all over again. I'd highly recommend you watch the movie over listening to this books "read to me" feature, you'd finish about the same time. Ok that's a slight exaggeration, but it is bad.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Why would someone pay almost 20 bucks for a BOOK??? U just have to read it. Then its over... stupid why would somebody do that? Wow. Tiny brains that dont know how to think. What a waste of money. :(
Juliana Dasilva More than 1 year ago
The pictures were amazing and the voice reading was very clear but it was very slow and much too expensive even if it is a read to me.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I first heard this story read on the Mark and Brian show from Los Angeles. I thought it was one of the best Christmas stories I have heard. I will make this a Christmas tradition in our house by reading this story to my four children every year.
iAWLFAN More than 1 year ago
I have an idea....Let's teach our kids to get on a train with a stranger. Beautiful book. Bad method to send a message done a million times in better ways (think Miracle on 34th Street).
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A wonderful tale about a boy and Christmas.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very epic
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Gr8 for the holidays
Chanis Torres More than 1 year ago
wowww they put the price higher! i bought this book for only 8 dollars becaise i bought it about a month ago. this price is just OVER THE TOP. but other than price, loved the book, and movie.
Madeline Duncan More than 1 year ago
TOO EXPENSIVE!!!!!!!!!!!!! $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$