The Polar Express

( 148 )

Overview

For twenty-five years, The Polar Express has been a treasured holiday classic. To commemorate this special anniversary, a lavish gift edition has been created. The 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 ...

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Overview

For twenty-five years, The Polar Express has been a treasured holiday classic. To commemorate this special anniversary, a lavish gift edition has been created. The 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.

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  • The Polar Express
    The Polar Express  

Editorial Reviews

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
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

"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. 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

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780395389492
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 9/28/2009
  • Edition description: Anniversary Edition
  • Edition number: 25
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 7,410
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: 520L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 11.50 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Chris Van Allsburg

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 was formerly an instructor at the Rhode Island School of Design. He lives in Rhode Island with his wife and two children.

Biography

Multiple Caldecott Medal winner Chris Van Allsburg grew up in the 1950s in and around Grand Rapids, Michigan. He majored in sculpture at the University of Michigan's College of Architecture & Design and graduated in 1972. He received his M.F.A. in 1975 from Rhode Island School of Design.

After graduate school, Van Allsburgh set up a sculpture studio in Providence, married and settled in the area, and began exhibiting his work in New York City and throughout New England. Around the same time, he became interested in drawing. His wife, Lisa, encouraged him to pursue children's book illustration, putting him in contact with her friend David Macauley, a successful artist and author. Macauley's editor at Houghton Mifflin was impressed by Van Allsburgh's work and advised him to try his hand at illustrating a story of his own. His maiden effort, The Garden of Abdul Gasazi, was published in 1979 and received a Caldecott Honor Medal.

Since that auspicious beginning, Van Allsburgh has gone on to produce a string of wonderfully inventive, critically acclaimed, and award-winning books. He gathers inspiration from unlikely quarters -- the progress of ants across a kitchen counter, crayon streaks in a child's coloring book, a children's board game come to life -- and executes his ideas on a provocative but surefire "What if..." principle.

Among his many awards are two Caldecott Medals -- one for Jumanji, written in 1982 and the other for 1985's The Polar Express; a National Book Award (also for Jumanji); and the Regina Medal for lifetime achievement in children's literature.

Good To Know

Van Allsburg's grandfather owned and operated the East End Creamery and delivered milk and milk products to homes around the Grand Rapids area in yellow and blue trucks.

One of Van Allsburg's childhood homes was a big, Tudor-styled house on a wide, tree-lined street. He used the street as a model for the cover art of what is arguably his most famous book, The Polar Express.

Because so many students at Van Allsburg's high school excelled academically, representatives from the University of Michigan would visit each year to interview interested seniors and admit them on the spot if they met qualifications. During his senior year, Van Allsburg was told about the art program affiliated with the University's College of Architecture & Design and thought it sounded like fun. Although he had never had any formal art classes, he fibbed to the admissions officer, saying he had taken private lessons outside of school.

Two of Van Allsburg's bestselling books, Jumanji and The Polar Express, were subsequently turned into blockbuster movies.

Van Allsburg is not your typical "feel good" children's author. He has been known to handle darker themes, and his stories often involve bizarre worlds and dreamscapes.

In all his stories, Van Allsburg inserts a little white bull terrier modeled after a real-life dog owned by his brother-in-law. (Another popular children's author, David Shannon, does the same thing, but Shannon's pup is a Westie!)

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

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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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 148 )
Rating Distribution

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(121)

4 Star

(21)

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(4)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 148 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2000

    My Favorite Christmas Book For 11 Years

    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.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 1999

    As heard on the Mark & Brian Radio Show

    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.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 19, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Good

    Always this on the shelve when I was younger, at my school. Barely remember this one but faintly remember the movie. The cover I remember most. Same with Jumanji.

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  • Posted December 27, 2013

    The best Christmas book ever! Complete with a CD.

    A perfect book to read on Christmas Eve!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 20, 2013

    Its a must buy for the Christmas season!

    I bought this book for my son. To start a family terdition , and he loves it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 13, 2013

    Highly Recommend

    Van Allsburgh gave us this 1st Gift of Christmas years ago but every bit as good today. LOVE It. I gave it as a gift for a newborn.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2013

    Highly recommended..

    A story to share for many years to come...

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2012

    highly recommented

    fast service and perfect product

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 27, 2012

    A number of years ago, I was in charge of the entertainment at a

    A number of years ago, I was in charge of the entertainment at a Holiday celebration of Lady Elks, some old enough to be my grandmother- I was the mother of teenagers! I chose to read The Polar Express. None had heard it before. As we got to the end, I rang the bell. They were all silent, with slight smiles and misty eyes. And then to their surprise, Santa burst into the room! I was just today reminded about how much the ladies enjoyed the evening, being read to, reminded of the youthful mystery ad magic of the season. And I will be shopping for 2 copies for one of the now housebound ladies to give to her great grandchildren this year. It's not even December yet, and I have heard the bell....

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 20, 2012

    Beautiful!!! and a great family tradition!

    Since my children were small, every Christmas Eve, I would read The Polar Express to them, and The Night Before Christmas. I can still remember how they would cuddle around me in their pajamas while waiting to hear the story of the gift of Christmas, the silver bell from Santa's sleigh. It is a family tradition that my family has enjoyed from year to year with their families. What a wonderful story!

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  • Posted October 13, 2011

    Highly Recommended - You must check it out

    This Book is Very awesome. I dont realy like to read that much but every time i see this book i enjoy reading it. i recommend this book to all ages. i am a Christmas Freak so i just really enjoy this book because it makes Christmas very Christmasy. I will be reading more books from this Author.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2010

    Classic but not interesting

    Classic book. I love it yet it is not interesting enough to keep a young child's attention. My 3 year old children loved the train but most of the photos and the story was just not enough to want me to read this story over and over again.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 2010

    not my favorite

    the polar express is so unsurpising. None in my family is crazy about it. In fact last year somone trew up on it. But it is OK.

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  • Posted November 28, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Kids Review - A Great Christmas Book

    I got this book last year and just dug it out to read again now that Thanksgiving is over. It is a great book and one of my favorite Christmas story books. Is there really a Santa Clause? The story is cool and you will love the drawing. There are so many Christmas type books, but, this one has to be right there at the top of the list. There is lots of joy and you may even get a bit of a tear while reading. The story is of a boy's journey on a mysterious train, the Polar Express, that takes children (adorned in their pajamas) to the North Pole to Santa's village. Every child should own this book. It is a magical story that they can appreciate for the rest of their lives.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2010

    A perfect Children's book

    The Polar Express had to be one of my all time favorite children's books. Everything from the story to the fantastic illustrations mesmerizes you from start to finish. I've read this book to many children and they world agree it is truly a unique book which captivates the mind. The book sends you into a fictional world of wonderment where you think about the possibility of can there be a Santa Clause and all the magic which surrounds Christmas.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2010

    The Polar Express

    Good book for the holidays!

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  • Posted February 13, 2010

    Polar Express a story reminding us of what is lost

    remember to embrace the child who still lives within you

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  • Posted February 6, 2010

    GREAT CD AND BOOK

    My son who is 3 years old constantly wants to read along with the CD and book. I got this for Christmas and needless to say it is one of his favorite books to read at night. If your child likes the movie, get this book. Liam Neeson does a fabulous job narrating.

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  • Posted February 6, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    The best Christmas book you could give a boy who loves trains.

    We read this every night of the Christmas holiday. A great story, especially when shared with the beautiful mind of a child. Buy it and the movie.

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  • Posted February 1, 2010

    Book is great for young children

    This book, like the movie, takes you into the world of make-believe. It is written so that pre-school children can imagine themselves riding on the train. Our grandchildren from 4 to 14 have loved the story. Pictures are well done and it is an easy read. Have given it as a gift as well as have it in my home.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 148 Customer Reviews

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