The Polar Express
  • The Polar Express
  • The Polar Express

The Polar Express

4.2 293
by Chris Van Allsburg

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A magical train ride on Christmas Eve takes a boy to the North Pole to receive a special gift from Santa.See more details below

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A magical train ride on Christmas Eve takes a boy to the North Pole to receive a special gift from Santa.

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."

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

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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.


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