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The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

The Polar Express (original 1985; edition 2009)

by Chris Van Allsburg

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4,6142711,035 (4.35)41
Title:The Polar Express
Authors:Chris Van Allsburg
Info:Houghton Mifflin (2009), Edition: 1st, Hardcover, 32 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Christmas, Caldecott, picture book, adventure

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The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg (1985)


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Showing 1-5 of 270 (next | show all)
We've been reading this one for years. First with my step son and now with O. Excellent story telling and beautiful illustrations. ( )
  maddiemoof | Oct 20, 2015 |
Summary: The Polar Express authored by Chris Van Allsburg is a story about a young boy who is told Santa Claus doesn't exist, but yet he still believes. Fortunately, when the Polar Express train appears in front of his house on Christmas Eve, he is taken to the North Pole, where in fact he sees Santa Clause. Not only is he proven right that Santa Claus exists, but even more so Santa chooses him to receive the first Christmas gift, a bell from a reindeer's harness. Now every Christmas the boy still hears the beautiful ring of the bell as well as all who still believe.

Personal Response: I absolutely love this book! I remember my mother reading this book to me as a young child and I was mesmerized by the Polar Express just as much as the boy was when he first caught glance of it outside his window. I believe this is a great book to read to children as the Christmas season begins. Although I am not a believer in Santa Claus, this book has a great plot and an exciting tone to offer.

Extension Ideas:
(1. In my classroom, I would have students act out different scenes of the Polar Express (When the train appears, the excitement of hot chocolate and singing carols on the train, or the scene of the boy receiving his present from Santa, etc.)
(2. I would have students cut out parts of a train, write their Christmas list on the parts, and then glue them together.
(3. I would have a Christmas movie viewing one afternoon and allow my students to watch the Polar Express movie.
  cwall_2018 | Sep 8, 2015 |
Christmas theme, 2-5, magic of Christmas and believing, 1986 Caldecott Medal Winner ( )
  ElaineZhang | Jul 30, 2015 |
I loved the magical elements in this story. It has a quietness about it that is pleasing and calming, I adore the message that you just need to believe in Christmas and everything will turn out to be perfect.
  foleysh | Jul 28, 2015 |
Summary: Polar Express is about a boy who questions whether Santa Claus is real or not. The Polar Express, a train that takes children to the North Pole, arrives on the night before Christmas to pick up the boy. When he is on the train, he gets to eat candy, sing Christmas carols, and drink hot cocoa. When he arrives in the North Pole, the conductor tells the children that all the elves are gathering the center of the city to see Santa give the first gift of Christmas. Santa picked the boy and asked him what would he like for Christmas. The boy asked for a silver bell that was on Santa's sleigh. The boy realized he lost the bell when he was on the train. The boy was dropped off at his home. When Christmas morning came, the boy opened a present and found his silver bell inside. When he shook the bell, he heard the beautiful ring, but his parents did not hear anything. The bell will only ring for those who truly believe.

Personal Reaction: I thought this story was well written and shows the true spirit of Christmas. The pictures were illustrated nicely to show the children reading this book what the boy was able to see during his trip to the North Pole. Christmas is not about the coolest or biggest presents. It is about believing in something and showing appreciation for the little things that we get that mean more than any silly toy. This book is a perfect book for any kid during Christmas.

Extension Ideas:
1. Bring in silver bells and string for the kids in the class, so that they can make their own necklace and have a silver bell to ring.
2. Make the children hot chocolate, so that they can drink it while you read the book to them.
  Alicia917934 | Jul 8, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 270 (next | show all)
Mr. Van Allsburg works effectively combining the sinister and the sentimental, but it would take a poet-sociologist to explain precisely why these dark, moody sculptural pastels somehow evoke feelings of glad tidings and joy.
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On Christmas Eve, many years ago, I lay quietly in my bed.
"Soon there were no more lights to be seen. We traveled through cold, dark forests, where lean wolves roamed and white-tailed rabbits hid from our train as it thundered through the quiet wilderness."
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0395389496, Hardcover)

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.

25th Anniversary Edition Includes
To commemorate this special anniversary, a lavish gift edition has been created. The set includes a silver foil border, a CD audio recording read by Liam Neeson, a note from Chris Van Allsburg, and a silvery keepsake "All Aboard" ornament.

Amazon Exclusive: A Letter from Chris Van Allsburg

Dear Amazon Readers,

Over the past twenty-five years, many people have shared stories with me about the effect that reading The Polar Express has had on their families and on their celebration of Christmas.

One of the most poignant was told to me five or six years ago at a book signing in the Midwest, on a snowy December evening. As I inscribed a book to a woman in her sixties, she told me that it was the second copy she had owned, and wanted to know if she could she tell me what had happened to the first. "Of course," I answered.

A dozen years earlier the woman, who had no children of her own, befriended a neighbor, a boy of about seven, named Eddie. He would often cross his driveway to visit her.

She had a collection of picture books, which she read to him, but around the holidays, the only story he ever wanted to hear, over and over, was The Polar Express. One year she offered to give him the book, but Eddie declined because he wanted to hear her read it aloud to him, which she continued to do every year until the boy and his family moved away.

Years later the woman learned from a mutual acquaintance that Eddie had grown up and become a soldier. He was stationed in Iraq. Since Christmas was approaching, the woman decided to send him a gift box. She included candy, cookies, socks, and her old copy of The Polar Express. She wasn't sure what a nineteen-year-old battle-weary soldier would do with the book in an army barracks in the Middle East, but she wanted him to have it. A month later, after the holidays had passed, she received a letter from Eddie.

He told her he was very happy to have heard from her and to get the box of gifts. He had opened it in his barracks, just before curfew, with some of his fellow GIs already in their bunks. A soldier in the next bunk spotted the book. He knew it well from his own childhood and asked Eddie to read it. "Out loud?" he asked. "Yeah," his buddy told him.

Eddie, quietly and a little self-consciously, read The Polar Express. When he'd finished and closed the book, a moment of silence passed. Then from behind him a voice called out, "Read it again," and another joined in, "Yeah, read it again," and a third added, "This time, louder." So Eddie did.

He wrote to the woman that he'd stood up and read it to his comrades just the way he remembered she had read it to him.

All aboard,

Chris Van Allsburg

Recipes and Activities to Celebrate the 25th Anniversary of The Polar Express
(Click on Images for the Recipe or Activity [PDF])

Snacks for Santa
Candy Cane Sugar Cookies
Polar Chocolate Nougat Caramel Squares

Christmas Snowball Cookies
Hot Chocolate

Fun and Games
A Polar Express Word Search
A Polar Express Crossword
A Polar Express Maze
A Polar Express Drawing Sheet

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:24 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

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

(summary from another edition)

» see all 4 descriptions

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