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


Elle said...

Ok I love love this story and the movie was fun too

The picture of your boy with the train conductor is priceless
what a great expression on his face

nice post

CC said...

I was thinking about doing one of my monday children's books on this one. Phew! Good thing I had no internet access and couldn't do it yesterday!

grandma K said...

What a great tradition. Love the expression on
'Lil Expert's face as he looks at the conductor! It
is very evident that everyone had a great time.

avtcoach said...

Thank you so much Laura for the guest post. I loved your description of your family in their pajamas on the train! Sounds like an amazing outing!

Joyce said...

Sounds like a fairy tale come true! What a wonderful experience for your family. <3

The Wine Commonsewer said...

The train ride is way cool.

Jake and I watched Polar Express the other night. Katie doesn't like it. The dissonance and unease is apparent to her. Apparent to me too, but I'm old and crotchety and can look past it.

Momisodes said...

WOW! What a cool tradition! I just love that movie and story :)