The Polar Express

by Chris Van Allsburg

Hardcover, 1985




Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 1985.


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

Media reviews

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.

User reviews

LibraryThing member ascott68
This is a wonderful story about a boy's journey to the North Pole to see Santa Clause. On Christmas Eve, a train arrives at the boys home, and whisks him away on an amazing adventure. Along the way, he encounters other children on the train who are as mystified and thrilled as he is. He also
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encounters some set backs on his journey, but recieves help from the conductor,and a "spirit" of sorts who guide him to solve his problems. In the end, he finally meets Santa Clause, and claims his magical bell. Only those who still believe can hear the bell's magical ringing.

I love this book...and my kids do too! It really appeals to all ages...from 1 to 99. I also own the shadow book version of this story. With the use of a flashlight, the images appear on the wall and make the book come alive.

My classroom extension would be to talk about other beliefs and practices observed during this time of year. Of course, I would send a letter home to parents first, so they know what I would be discussing with my class. At the end of the day, I would sneak a bell into their backpacks to enforce the wonder and magic of this amazing book.
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LibraryThing member eadavis83
This book is a good book to read to children at Christmas time. Many children know the story of the Polar Express and are excited to read this book every year. This is a good book to talk about and to discuss with the children. The teacher could also watch the movie with the children after reading
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the book.
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LibraryThing member rachaelmcdonald
The Polar Express is a book about a boy whose friend has told him there is no such thing as Santa Claus. The boy remains a believer and while listening for Santa’s sleigh bells on Christmas eve, hears a train pull up to his house. The train is heading for the North Pole. Once at the North pole
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the boy is lucky enough to meet Santa and his elves. Santa picks the boy to receive the first present of Christmas. The boy asks Santa for a sleigh bell. Santa cuts one of his bells off his sleigh and hands it to the boy. When the boy gets home, he notices the bell has fallen out of a hole in his pocket. The next morning while him and his sister are opening presents with their parents he unwraps a small present and discovers the bell inside, with a note that says, Fix that hole in your pocket. The boy shakes the bell and the only two who can hear it are him and his sister. This book is a wonderful story with pictures that make you feel you too are at the North Pole. On the way to the North Pole the train rides through beautiful landscape, making me wish I was a passenger on this train. The Polar Express is a Caldecott Award winner, and it is clear as to why, the pictures are extremely magical and original.

This book is great for any teacher or parent who is looking for a good Christmas book. As a parent and soon to be teacher I highly recommend this book. It is a magical story which will have children longing to visit Santa at the North Pole. This story is also for anyone who was once a child who believed in Santa. It took me back to the days of my childhood when I too would listen for Santa’s sleigh bells.

Teachers or Parents could have children draw pictures of what they would ask Santa for if they ever met him face to face. Children could also draw pictures of what they think the North Pole really looks like. This would be a good opportunity for children to make gingerbread houses for Santa to live in.
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LibraryThing member colombe
A must for every children's book collection!
LibraryThing member cjfox73
The story is magical, especially at Christmastime, and it addresses something many children think of when they begin to question the existence of Santa. The adventure will keep kids hooked.
LibraryThing member kshielee
The technology of a train that travels straight to the North Pole and the bell that can only be heard by those who believe makes this a science fiction book. Without this technology this book would not be possible. The setting of the book changes as the boy travels from his home, in a nondescript
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neighborhood, except for knowing that there is snow falling, to the train, to the North Pole. The North Pole is described as most kids might imagine it would be with a city with elves and factories at which all of the toys are made. The time of year this story takes place is Christmas Eve, but there is no specific year for the story, other then it occurs in modern times.
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LibraryThing member jeriannthacker
Beautifully written and illustrated book from Wiesner, about a young boy who travels to the North Pole to receive a special gift from Santa.
LibraryThing member enagreen
I have heard a lot about this story, but for some reason did not get around to reading it until now. My high expectations were not disappointed. The pictures are great, but I think it would be a really fun book to read without showing the pictures. There is not a lot of description when it comes to
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the North Pole and it would be fun to see what children's imaginations come up with-it could even be turned into an art project!
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LibraryThing member r13
All the colors on the images are muted or dark to convey the nighttime story, but they are also grand vistas as seen from the train, or including the train. This helps make the story inspirational. This inspiration is critical as the end of the story is that the child, even into his old age,
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continued to believe in Santa. This is a wonderful holiday book very useful for read alouds or choral reading.
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LibraryThing member maryanntherese
Entertaining for children, but there's no Christ in Christmas.
LibraryThing member heather_hill
The Polar Express is a fabulous tale of those children who believe in Santa Claus and one boy, in particular, who wants to prove Mr. Claus exists. Late on Christmas Eve, the Polar Express come whirling through, picking up children on its way to the North Pole. The train stops in the center of the
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North Pole, where Santa presents the first gift of Christmas to the boy.

This was one of my all-time favorite stories as a child. When they came out with the movie rendition, I was ecstatic! I love the way the pages seem to jump out at the reader, and the story comes alive with that sort of childlike wonder. This book will be one I hope to pass on to my children someday.

One classroom extension I could do with this book is to have my students write down what they would ask Santa for it they had been chosen to receive the first gift of Christmas. Another extension could be to have the children draw a giant picture of what they believe the North Pole would look like on Christmas Eve and hang it on the wall until Christmas Break.
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LibraryThing member Kaylinn_Hall
This Caldecott medal book is about a little boy who has doubts about beliving in Santa. On Christmas Eve, a train comes and picks him up. They travel to the North Pole where all the elves are in the town center waiting for Santa. When Santa comes out, the little boy was chosen to receive the first
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gift, and he wanted a bell off the the reindeers harness. At first he could not hear it ring, but as he began to believe he heard it ring. On the way home he lost the bell, and on Christmas morning it was in the tree. When he shook it he could still hear the bell, but his parents could not. At he grew up he never quit hearing the bell.

I remember this book form when I was little. In elementary school, we would meet in the gym and the principal would read the book to us, then we would all receive a bell. I was fun and magical. I definately want to pass this on to my children and classroom students.

One activity I would do with my students is to have them write a letter to Santa, or they could draw a picture of what they think the north pole looks like.
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LibraryThing member kbuttry
This book is about a young boy who gets on a train called the Polar Express to go see Santa Clause. It was a long journey to the North Pole, but when they got there it was huge! They went to the center of the city where Santa and his elves were to open the first gift of Christmas. The young boy got
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chosen and all he wanted was a silver bell from Santa’s sleigh. When they got on the train he discovered he lost it through a hole in his robe. The next morning there was one last gift for him under the tree, and it was the bell!

I like this book because it is a great Christmas book to share with children. However, I do not think it would be a good book to read in a classroom because of all of the different beliefs children have. The pictures were illustrated beautifully and represented the movie exactly.

For extension ides, if allowed, I would have the children pretend we were going to visit Santa. I would have them write letters to him about what they would want if chosen to be the child who gets to open the first gift of Christmas.
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LibraryThing member Joles
Although a Children's book, The Polar Express is a classic already. The story is touching and the artwork is GORGEOUS! It is hard to read this book as a child or adult and not get at least slightly weepy. (I had the pleasure of getting this book as a child relatively soon after it was released.) If
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you have a young child or know a young child this is the book for them. You MUST own this book.
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LibraryThing member rjmcwhorter1
This is a timeless book. It was always one of my favorites as a child. It makes the holidays incredibly magical and much more appreciative. I would definitely read this to my class around the holidays. I think it would be appropriate to integrate stories about different holiday traditions, and this
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portrays Christmas very well.
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LibraryThing member lianedewan
The Polar Express is about a little boy who is visited one Christmas Eve by a midnight train. The little boy is invited on an exciting trip to the North Pole to see Santa before he leaves to deliver the gifts. The little boy is having trouble believing that Santa is real, but after this trip is
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changed forever.

This is a classic in my family. It has been read almost as many times as “The Night Before Christmas.” I love the illustrations. It is a story of hope and never forgetting your inner child.

My classroom extension with this book would be to have the students locate the North Pole.
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LibraryThing member tiggeronmars
Excellent...for all who the magic of Christmas!
LibraryThing member lisabankey
This story is read by Lou Diamond Phillips and the set is decorated for Christmas. The Polar Express is a story about a magical trip to the North Pole. The story is told from the point of view form one boy. The illustrations are very detailed and true to life which makes the North Pole look sooooo
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This is an excellent website to share with a class. It gives a summary of the book, MANY activity suggestions that encourage deeper involvement with the story itself or the themes of the story. The video is not just watching some reading. The clips are artfully edited between the actor(s) reading aloud and showing the illustrations form the book (zooming in and out and panning across the page to emphasize details). Other great features of is it easily offers a full screen option and it also offers a caption option so you can read along!!!
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LibraryThing member meallen1
I love this book!!! It would be great to read the class around Christmas time, and then we could watch the movie afterwards. I am definatley going to read this book to my classroom.
LibraryThing member rpultusk
This classic story about belief in magic takes a little boy from his bed on Christmas Eve and to the North Pole. On the train with other pajama-clad children, the boy excitedly travels through forests, mountains, and tundras before reaching hundreds of elves and Santa himself. The boy asks Santa
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for one of his silver sleigh bells for Christmas. Then, when the boy boards the train for the return trip, he discovers, sadly, that the bell has fallen out through a hole in his pajama pocket. The boy is elated and mystified, however, when he discovers a special package from "Mr. C" under the tree the next morning. The only ones who can hear the bell ring are the ones who still believe in the magic of Christmas.

The book is a Christmas classic. The language is mysterious and exciting. The illustrations are soft, yet powerful, and evoke the magical themes that permeate the story.

While it is important to include books representative of a wide variety of cultures and religious celebrations, this book should be certainly be included in elementary and middle school libraries as part of the canon of classic Christmas stories.
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LibraryThing member bekstrom
This book is a good example of fantasy. The story is believable, but it is impossible. This word does not exist, but young children still believe in this world and it is important for some of them to keep holding on to their dreams. I would use this book in a late primary or early intermediate
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classroom. The type of media used is crayon.
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LibraryThing member meallen1
This is a fantasy fiction book. The art is hand drawn pictures. The book is about a boy who gets on a train that takes him to the North Pole. When he gets there Santa offers him a bell, but the bell is broken. When he hears the bell ring it will show him that he really believes. The reading level
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is first to fourth grade. The curricular connection is it is a good book to read at Christmas time.
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LibraryThing member sdglenn
A magical train ride on Christmas Eve takes a boy to the North Pole to receive a special gift from Santa. For grades k-2. Illustartions probably drawn with pastals. We could use this book to teach about fantasy and multicultural children from different places.
LibraryThing member Brooke28
This book is about a boy who receives the first gift of Christmas from Santa at the North Pole. On the train trip home, the gift is lost. On Christmas morning, Santa sends the gift to him to open..Santa was looking out for him.
LibraryThing member lisab818
Chris Van Allsburg's art took my breath away as I looked at his pictures for the first time since I was a small child. The Polar Express tells the story of a boy who boards a train and visits the North Pole. The book creates a space for imagination and entrancement, where the reader is not given
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all of the details, but can create their own mental images. A great Christmas story and a reminder to believe.
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Caldecott Medal (Medal Winner — 1986)
Texas Bluebonnet Award (Nominee — 1988)
Boston Globe–Horn Book Award (Honor — Picture Book — 1986)
Audie Award (Finalist — 2001)
Kentucky Bluegrass Award (Nominee — Grades K-3 — 1987)
Buckeye Children's & Teen Book Award (Nominee — Grades K-2 — 1991)
Buckaroo Book Award (First runner-up — 1999)
Nevada Young Readers' Award (Nominee — 1988)
Grand Canyon Reader Award (Nominee — 1989)
Golden Archer Award (Winner — 1986)
Flicker Tale Award (Nominee — Picture Books — 1988)
CCBC Choices (Picture Books — 1985)



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