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The Polar Express Sam's Edition Hardcover – September 1, 2006
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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.
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
Fun and Games
A Polar Express Word Search
A Polar Express Crossword
A Polar Express Maze
From School Library Journal
PreSchool-Grade 2-Chris Van Allsburg's Caldecott-winning Christmas classic (HM, 1985) is 15 years old, but it is a timeless story that just keeps getting better. Actor Liam Neeson's authoritative, unhurried narration brings the story to life. Peaceful, unobtrusive orchestrations punctuate the text like falling snow. As the Polar Express pulls into town one Christmas Eve, offering a magical, unforgettable trip to the North Pole, a young boy boards the train. When Santa offers him the first gift of the season, the boy chooses one bell from the harness of a reindeer. On the return trip, the bell is lost, and Christmas for the boy seems to be ruined, until the bell reappears under the Christmas tree, with a mystery of its own, solved only by a belief in the spirit of Christmas. This release won't sit on the shelf long. Parents, teachers, and librarians everywhere will be grateful to have someone else read this tear-jerker in their stead. This well-written, impeccably presented package deserves all the attention it will get.
Kirsten Martindale, Buford Academy, GA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
It begins like this: "On Christmas Eve, many years ago, I lay quietly in my bed. I did not rustle the sheets. I breathed slowly and silently. I was listening for a sound -- a sound a friend had told me I'd never hear -- the ringing of Santa's sleigh.
'There is no Santa,' my friend had insisted, but I knew he was wrong."
From here, we follow a beautifully illustrated story of this young boy's quiet night ride with other children, on the Polar Express train to the North Pole, a "huge city standing alone at the top of the world, filled with factories where every Christmas toy was made."
Our narrator is the fortunate child, picked by Santa, to receive the first gift of that Christmas. He knows exactly what he wants, a simple gift that will help him continue to believe in the magic of Christmas, a silver bell from a reindeer's harness.
He gets his wish, but loses it on the train ride home. However, there's a happy ending -- evidently Santa has found the bell, and put it under the tree. The boy and his little sister admire the beauty of the sound it makes, but their parents say, "Oh, that's too bad....It's broken."
Many years later, the boy's sister and all of his friends can no longer hear the bell.
"Though I've grown old, the bell still rings for me as it does for all who truly believe."
My youngest son at ages 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 has chosen to firmly believe with the narrator, but he's moved around in his reaction to the notion that Santa isn't real. From -- "that's ridiculous, isn't it?" to "Mom...it is ridiculous, isn't it?" This book will let him hold onto the Christmas spirit for as long as he wants, and to return to it whenever he needs it.
This version comes complete with CD's/tapes with readings. Buy the less expensive edition, add a silver bell, and (if you can), read it with the child yourself to give a really special gift.
A wonderful book for those who want to believe in the spirit of Christmas every day of every year.
Actor Tom Hanks is accompanied by some talented children on the track Polar Express. This is a very fun song that kids will love. I think kids would also enjoy the song When Christmas Comes To Town. This is a cute song performed by 2 kids with angelic voices. I enjoyed this song very much. Alan Silvestri contributes on this soundtrack by composing several beautiful instrumental pieces. I especially liked the last track Suite from the Polar Express I also enjoyed the track Spirit of the Season also credited to Alan Silvestri which is performed by an awesome choir of singers.
The Polar Express soundtrack is the best Christmas album I've heard in a long time. It has a good mix of old and new songs. I recommend this CD to anyone who enjoys listening to Christmas music.
When this huge box from Amazon showed up, I assumed Amazon was out of smaller shipping boxes. My husband and I couldn't stop laughing when we pulled this book out of the box.
This book is perfect for large audiences (classrooms). Depending on your size, you may need help holding and turning the pages - my husband is 6 foot and he would have benefited from having an assistant page turner.