When Chris Van Allsburg wrote The Polar Express in 1986, he didn’t know that far into the future it would become a Christmas classic. Upon its release though, the stunning illustrations and heartwarming story earned it the Caldecott Medal. Since then, it’s appeared in countless homes and read during chilly winter nights and Christmas Eves.
Allsburg creates childrens books with fun, magical stories, and this is one of them. A boy wanders out of his home one night to find a train sitting on his street. He climbs aboard where the train then takes him and other children all the way to the mythical North Pole to meet Santa Claus. It is here that the boy, who never has a name in the story, receives a very special gift from Chris Kringle himself.
Parents who read this as kids in the 80s have now bought it for their children. The Polar Express made a major comeback in 2004 when the dazzling power of computer graphics managed to bring Allsburg’s famous illustrations to life, and then some. Since then the book has seen popularity like never before and is now a classic as much as The Night Before Christmas, becoming a story of the belief in Santa and the magic of Christmas.
Books are now often coupled together with Alan Silvestri’s truly enchanting soundtrack from the movie, which feature both lyrical songs kids will love and instrumental pieces that are great for playing in the background while parents read on snowy nights.
Allsburg’s illustrations are soft, yet lively. They capture the excitement of Christmas, from the casual snow falling around the train to Santa’s sleigh and his flying reindeer. Allsburg likes to play with perspectives, and makes the most of them here, from upshots to downward angles, toying with light and shadow to bring everything together.
Entire families will enjoy reading The Polar Express. Though the book is intended for an audience of kids ages 5-8, adults and older siblings are sure to settle down once it opens. A cup of cocoa goes well with a good story like this one.