Book #128: The Polar Express

Polar Express -- coverWho hasn’t heard of this one? This book is pretty much everywhere, especially during the Christmas season, but have you read the story lately? The film adaptation is excellent, too, but I think it’s worth remembering that without the book there would have been no film.

Illustrations like these don’t come around very often. These pages are beautiful and incredible, evoking a mood that to me feels almost indescribable. The text has a dreamy, eerie, quality, too, much like the pictures.

A boy boards a train passing through his neighborhood. It’s heading for the North Pole.

Polar Express -- doorway

Outside, the lights of towns and villages flickered in the villages as the Polar Express raced northward. Soon there were no more lights to be seen.  We traveled through cold, dark forests, where lean wolves roamed and white-tailed rabbits hid from our train as it thundered through the quiet wilderness.  

Polarl Express -- train

Polar Express -- wolves

Could you do this with a box of pastels?

According to Anita Silvey, former editor-in-chief at The Horn Book, Van Allsburg’s wife brought her husband’s portfolio to Walter Lorraine of Houghton Mifflin in Boston.  There, he promised the illustrator’s wife that he would provide a contract for any book Van Allsburg wished to make.

We had to tell Ray this year about the myth of Santa Claus.  He was asking us too many technical questions about the likelihood of flying reindeer and whether or not Santa could get down our chimney, and at some point the elaborate lie felt a bit too much.

This book is all about believing, though, and hopefully brought back a little of the magic.  ABZ

Polar Express -- present

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