Reviews for The Polar Express

School Library Journal
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PreS-Gr 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 (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


School Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Gr 1-3 Given a talented and aggressive imagination, even the challenge of as cliche-worn a subject as Santa Claus can be met effectively. Van Allsburg's Polar Express is an old-fashioned steam train that takes children to the North Pole on Christmas Eve to meet the red-suited gentleman and to see him off on his annual sleigh ride. This is a personal retelling of the adult storyteller's adventures as a youngster on that train. The telling is straight, thoughtfully clean-cut and all the more mysterious for its naive directness; the message is only a bit less direct: belief keeps us young at heart. The full-page images are theatrically lit. Colors are muted, edges of forms are fuzzy, scenes are set sparsely, leaving the details to the imagination. The light comes only from windows of buildings and the train or from a moon that's never depicted. Shadows create darkling spaces and model the naturalistic figures of children, wolves, trees, old-fashioned furniture and buildings. Santa Claus and his reindeer seem like so many of the icons bought by parents to decorate yards and rooftops: static, posed with stereotypic gestures. These are scenes from a memory of long ago, a dreamy reconstruction of a symbolic experience, a pleasant remembrance rebuilt to fufill a current wish: if only you believe, you too will hear the ringing of the silver bell that Santa gave him and taste rich hot chocolate in your ride through the wolf-infested forests of reality. Van Allsburg's express train is one in which many of us wish to believe. Kenneth Marantz, Art Education Department, Ohio State University, Columbus (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Publishers Weekly
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Several treasured titles make a comeback as reissues. In preparation for the November release of the book-based film starring Tom Hanks, Houghton has reshot the artwork for the 1986 Caldecott Medal- winning The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg, sprucing up this perennial holiday favorite. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

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