Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Polar Express...

Today I am guest posting again for AVT Coach's Tuesday Tales and I am excited to present one of my favorite Christmas stories, "The Polar Express" by Chris Van Allsburg.

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

It is our tradition to read this one out loud as Christmas nears and this year we were fortunate to be able take the kids to the Grand Canyon Railway and to ride the Polar Express to the North Pole. We all wore our pajamas, enjoyed singing waiters and waitresses, and received our very own reindeer bells during a visit from Santa. 

Book summary and teaching ideas from 

One Christmas Eve many years ago, a boy lies in bed, listening

hard for the bells of Santa’s sleigh, which he has been told by a

friend do not exist. Later that night he hears not bells but a very

different sound. He looks out of his window and is astounded to see

a steam engine parked in front of his house! The conductor invites

him to board the Polar Express, a train filled with children on their

way to the North Pole.The boy and his companions journey past

tiny towns and forests full of wild creatures.They travel up and

around mountains and across the Great Polar Ice Cap to the magical

city at the North Pole.The train takes the children to the center of

the city, where Santa and the elves have gathered for the giving of

the first gift of Christmas.The boy is chosen to receive this first gift.

Knowing that he can choose anything in the world, he decides on a

simple gift: one silver bell from Santa’s sleigh. Santa cuts a bell from

a reindeer’s harness and the delighted boy slips it into his bathrobe

pocket as the clock strikes midnight and the reindeer pull the

sleigh into the sky.

When the children return to the train, the boy realizes the bell

has fallen through a hole in his pocket. Heartbroken, he is returned

to his home. In the morning, his little sister finds one small box

with the boy’s name on it among the presents below the Christmas

tree. Inside is the silver bell! The boy and his sister are enchanted

by its beautiful sound, but their parents cannot hear it.The boy continues

to believe in the spirit of Christmas and is able to hear the

sweet ringing of the bell even as an adult.

Special Features of The Polar Express

The arrival of a steam engine—the Polar Express—on the boy’s

quiet street is startling and wonderful enough to make readers gasp

out loud.This book in particular captures the magic of childhood

with sensitivity and grace.The warm and vivid color pastels create

expressive characters and scenes that are very much alive.The artwork,

combined with Chris Van Allsburg’s vivid prose, creates a journey

that resonates on many levels for readers of all ages.This is a

book to return to year after year.

The vivid visual world of The Polar Express is evoked by the text

as well as by the pictures.Van Allsburg constructs a distinct sense of

place, infused with magic by his skillful use of metaphor and simile.

The train is “wrapped in an apron of steam,” and the children drink

hot cocoa “as thick and rich as melted chocolate bars.”The lights of

the North Pole appear to the boy as “the lights of an ocean liner

sailing on a frozen sea.”

Read more at AVT Coach

I love having family traditions that involve books and reading. Hope you enjoy the book as much as my kids have through the years.

Here are some highlights of our family trip on The Polar Express:

Click pictures for larger image

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Santa came early this year!

"Mom, Santa's been here. Santa came."
I look at the clock, it's 3:17 AM

We love Christmas!

We did our family Christmas exchange today because next week we are headed for California and I did not want to carry the children's presents there and home again. My older son was up at 3:00 AM and 5:30 AM ready to open presents. Just a little excited. 

We have a little tiny tree this year because we are going to be gone the rest of the month and we will have a big tree at Grandma's house. Now, we can relax and enjoy the Christmas spirit without an overcrowded car!    

Saturday, December 13, 2008

December Birthdays Are Upon Us...

Six years old!

The Best Birthday Ever!

The first of our three December birthdays has arrived. Storytellin' Boy turned six on December 8th and the girls birthdays are coming later in December. 

We decided to forego big parties this year and Storytellin' Boy decided a dinner at Chuckie Cheese was his wish for his birthday. At the end of the night he said, "This was my best birthday ever!" Sometimes it is nice to just be with the family.

Storytellin' Boy has had many milestones this past year. Beginning kindergarten, continuing to amuse us all with his tall tales, and spending most of his free time drawing and creating all kinds of art projects.

His cousin Jake called him to wish him on his birthday and he told him, "I've moved on from artist to inventor." 

Happy Birthday Son!!