Friday, November 6, 2020

Review - The Polar Express

The Polar Express

by Chris Van Allsburg
Date: 1985
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 32
Format: e-book
Source: library

Late on Christmas Eve, after the town has gone to sleep, a boy boards a mysterious train that waits for him: the Polar Express bound for the North Pole. When he arrives there, Santa offers him any gift he desires. The boy modestly asks for one bell from the reindeer's harness. It turns out to be a very special gift, for only believers in Santa can hear it ring.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

I'm pretty sure I read this years ago, as parts of it seemed fairly familiar. I'm not sure if I would've appreciated Chris Van Allsburg's illustrations and gentle story as much back then, though.

This is a Christmas classic, and for good reason. It's the perfect read-aloud story for Christmas Eve (and, given the amount of text, it will probably work best as a book that an adult reads to a child). The plot is memorable, seeking to recapture the magic of Santa Claus for those children just on the cusp of disbelieving.

The illustrations are simple but lovely, in Van Allsburg's signature style (albeit quite colourful compared to some of the other titles by him that I've read). The way the illustrations capture the light is particularly striking. The expressions on the children's faces are evocative and really bring the characters to life.

The Polar Express should probably be in every reader's Christmas library. If you're only familiar with the movie, be sure to check out the book it was based on.

Quotable moment:

Premise: 4/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 4/5
Illustrations: 4/5
Originality: 4/5

Enjoyment: 4/5

Overall: 4 out of 5

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