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.
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.”
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: