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The Polar Express

4.28  ·  Rating Details  ·  136,444 Ratings  ·  2,154 Reviews
The Polar Express isa treasured holiday tradition.This lavish giftset includes aCD audio recording read by Liam Neeson, akeepsake "All Aboard" ornament, and a note from author Chris Van Allsburg.

Awarded the prestigious Caldecott Medal in 1986,The Polar Express has soldmore than 7 million copies, become a classic holiday movie, andbeen translatedinto stage productions that
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published 2000 by Houghton Mifflin (first published October 28th 1985)
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Forrest Gump by Winston GroomThe Devil Wears Prada by Lauren WeisbergerJurassic Park by Michael CrichtonJumanji by Chris Van AllsburgMary Poppins by P.L. Travers
I Only Watched the Movie!
56th out of 963 books — 5,604 voters
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The BOOK was BETTER than the MOVIE
52nd out of 1,351 books — 17,798 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Will Byrnes
A young boy is awakened from his Christmas Eve rest by a train that magically appears just outside his home. Ignoring the demands of stranger-danger, the boy climbs aboard, finding the car filled with other youngsters. They are treated to goodies while en route to the north pole where Santa is to offer the first gift of Christmas to one of the passengers in a town-square ceremony attended by all the elves as well as the transported youngsters. Our hero is selected, and when asked what he would l ...more
Dec 27, 2015 Anne rated it it was amazing
Shelves: the-kid-in-me
What would you like for Christmas?

I'm still in the spirit of Christmas, because Christmas isn't until the 7th of January here in Ukraine. So.....more for me. I've always loved The Polar Express movie, It can even be said that it's my all time favourite Christmas movie, but up until now, I had never read the book. There's no "why" to the story, sorry. I've read it now, and I'm delighted to say I love it just as much as the movie-maybe even a tad bit more. I love the moral of the story, abou
Dec 19, 2015 Mario rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
Though I've grown old, the bell still rings for me, as it does for all who truly believe.


I watched The Polar Express the movie as soon as it came out. And it became one of my favorite Christmas movies. And now I finally decided to read (well, listen actually) the book. And the book was just as magical as the movie (even though I do have to admit that I liked the movie a little bit more)

One more thing I want to mention is that Liam Neeson did an amazing job narrating the book. If you haven't a
The Story: 3,5 stars

The Narration: 5 stars
“Though I’ve grown old, the bell still rings for me as it does for all who truly believe.”

Like the magical train ride, The Polar Express is a magical story, one that readers and listeners will want to enjoy again and again. It's a excellent book for a family read aloud during the Christmas season. Plus, the narration by Liam Neeson also helps ;)
I so wanted to love this book. I had heard many friends enthuse about The Polar Express, knew it had won awards, and have a soft spot myself for illustrated fantasy books for children. But this particular one I found to be a little disappointing.

Yes, it has magical elements. In a way it is reminiscent of many Christmas stories, with the message that you just need to believe in Father Christmas and everything will turn out to be perfect. It had elements from stories I love, such as "The Snowman",
Dec 02, 2011 Arlene rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Arlene by: Those who believe in the magic of Christmas...
So here’s a little something about me… there are two movies I to watch around the holidays. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer Stone and The Polar Express. Yes, I’m a kid at heart and there’s just something about those two movies that, for me, make it feel like Christmas.

I think it was around the holidays several years ago that I went out shopping during Black Friday (yes call me crazy) and bought my first HP movie for the low price of like $3! And, I’ve watched the movie every year s
Nov 30, 2008 Jennifer rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: adults trying to recapture their mythic childhoods
My general opinion of Chris Van Allsburg is that his books are made to appeal to adults, not children. None of his books has ever been a favorite of my children. This book is a perfect example. The overall story has potential--a Christmas Eve train that takes Santa-believing children to the North Pole to witness the ritual of Santa giving the first gift of Christmas. But page after page of illustration focuses on the landscape the train travels. When the Polar Express arrives at the North Pole, ...more
“The Polar Express” is a fantastic book that proudly won the Caldecott Medal and is from the creative mind of Chris Van Allsburg. This story is about how a young boy experiences the magic of the North Pole when he goes a magical ride on the Polar Express. “The Polar Express” is a brilliant Christmas story that children of all ages will enjoy for many years.

Chris Van Allsburg has done a terrific job at both writing and illustrating this book with a passion. Chris Van Allsburg portrays the boy’s
Jeff Raymond
Oct 12, 2010 Jeff Raymond rated it did not like it
Shelves: picture-books
I hate The Polar Express.

I don't so much dislike Chris Van Allsburg, although I consider him complicit. I think Bad Day at Riverbend is a top 5 picture book for me, and his art style is great, and he can often tell a fun story (last year's Probuditi a great example).

But holy crap do I hate The Polar Express.

It's like Love You Forever - tacky, sentimental pap designed to get you to shed a tear or tug on your heartstrings or whatever. The bell! The whole thing just...throws me. I don't get it.

Melissa  I
Dec 20, 2015 Melissa I rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Read this, what seems forever ago. The days when my babies weren't too old to be read to. Also saw the movie. Usually if I've read a book and saw the movie, which is rare to happen, I highly favor one over the other, however this one runs pretty equal for both. All good memories and a very special story. Now I have to search on demand so I can watch this just before Christmas. The Book was one of the many losses from four years ago (will I ever get over that? Rhetorical), so I no longer have it, ...more
Although I appreciate both the story and the illustrations, The Polar Express ultimately leaves me rather flat and unsatisfied. The narrative reads sweetly and to a point evocatively, but I never feel all that engaged and more like a dispassionate and even somewhat apathetic onlooker, with not much of a sense of Christmastime magic (it might well be present, but I have trouble feeling and sensing it). As to the accompanying illustrations, while detailed and expressive, they are simply too dark a ...more
To check out all my reviews:

I have come to love and appreciate this book especially in a certain point of my life I actually hated it with a passion. I do not know if I ever read the english version which I probably did but I remember my 4th grade spanish teacher reading this story to us especially in the same time frame as the movie version being released. For the most part I did enjoy the book but for years I hated the film with a passion. I believe I fall
Dec 15, 2015 Brooke rated it it was amazing
This will always remain one of my favorite Christmas stories. This was my first time listening to it on audiobook and it was just magical! The sound effects of the train really brought the story to life. The sweet message gets me every time. It's such a simple and beautifully written book.
Dec 17, 2015 Malene rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-books
"I knew that I could have any gift I could imagine. But the thing I wanted most for Christmas was not inside Santa's giant bag."

Eventyret om den lille dreng og hans tur til Nordpolen julenat, er godt kendt fra den animerede film 'Polarekspressen'. Det er en årlig tradition for mig at se den søde julefilm i løbet af decembermåned, men i år ville jeg også bladre igennem den korte, men flotte bog, der er udgivet under samme navn.

Bogen er smækfyldt med de smukkeste og mest detaljerede illustratione
Eva Lucia
Jul 16, 2016 Eva Lucia rated it really liked it
Also posted on Eva Lucias blog

A beautiful Christmas story that warms you up, even in the coldest nights.

Chris Van Allsburg has created a wonderful and beloved story. Although, it is no more than 32 pages and mostly filled with illustrations, the story stands strong in itself and in our memories after reading it.

A boy is awakened on Christmas Eve by a train that is on its way to the North Pole. Every child's dream, right? The story is beautifully illustrated, while reading it you can almost see t
Dec 24, 2014 Jonnie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children
The Polar Express captures all the magical warmth of many Christmases spent under the tree, drinking creamy hot chocolates and writing letters to Santa. It's wonderfully written and beautifully illustrated and evokes the sweetest child-like emotions from within me.

"Though I've grown old, the bell still rings for me, as it does for all who truly believe.”

A wonderful classic recommended to all.
May 17, 2016 Julia rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrens, 2015
4.5 stars
Aug 11, 2008 Linda rated it really liked it
I collect Christmas books and would eagerly scour the shelves for the newest stories each season, but for whatever reason I did not buy nor read The Polar Express - it just did not appeal to me. Then in 1987 I took my two daughters to Seattle via Amtrak to attend Maurice Sendak's stage setting of the Christmas classic The Nutcracker. Before going to the ballet, the girls and I spent an afternoon at a Christmas exhibit at the University of Washington and chanced to happen upon an older gentleman ...more
Jan 10, 2011 Ranee rated it really liked it
I wanted to hear the bell ring too. For one brief moment, I also wanted to have one of Santa's sleigh bell and let it ring then listen to it across decades.
I am too old to ride the Polar express but I'll never tire of Christmas! This Picture book reminds us of that magic that Christmas morning brings. The wonderful cooking of our mother , those waking moments when we run towards our Christmas stockings just to check what Santa has brought for us.
This book contains magic, the North pole, elves,
Dec 10, 2014 Chrissie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kids, favorites, holidays
Anything by this author is fantastic. Always for adults as well as for kids.
Jake Hartnett
Dec 17, 2014 Jake Hartnett rated it it was amazing
What a magical story—perfect for this time of year. It took me 30 minutes to read this little gem: 10 of those consisted of reading, and the remainder was made up of me just simply staring into space with my mouth gaping, imagining I was actually aboard the old steam train, tearing through the snowy wilderness on my way to meet Santa Claus at the North Pole.

Though very short, it still manages to wrap itself around you, allowing you to escape into the wintery world of Christmas. Everything about
I have read this many times before but reread it this month along with the Picture Book Club as we read Caldecott books. While this isn't my favorite Van Allsburg book nor my favorite Christmas book, I do love it! I love that it shows nearly the full gamut of emotions...from the anticipation and excitement on the children's faces as they are served cocoa on board the Polar Express to the wonder and awe on the boy's face as Santa holds up the first gift of Christmas to the sorrow and shock when h ...more
Dec 22, 2015 Sarah rated it it was amazing
I'd seen the movie, but hadn't read the book until tonight. It's a wonderful children's Christmas story with a sweet sentiment. It's short, and some would say sappy, but I loved it. I couldn't help but smile and feel just a little bit better after spending time with it. The pages are beautiful.
Jackson Zoellner
Feb 27, 2013 Jackson Zoellner rated it liked it
I was never read this book as a child. Our christmas story was always "The night before Christmas." The first time I read it was when the movie came out years ago staring Tom Hanks. I thought it would be prudent to pick up the book and read it before seeing the movie and I find it quite charming. As a young realistic boy it did not take me long to start questioning the reality of santa but like most kids I still was enthralled with the christmas spirit and the influence that these types of stori ...more
Dec 19, 2015 Michelle rated it really liked it
Can you tell I'm trying to reach my goodreads goal?! Anyways, I love this story, they really did a good job when they adapted this into a movie. The last line is one of my favorites of all time.

"At one time most of my friends could hear the bell, but as years passed, it fell silent for all of them. Even Sarah found one Christmas that she could no longer hear it's sweet sound. Though I've grown old, the bell still rings for me as it does for all who truly believe."
Jonathan Peto
Dec 11, 2012 Jonathan Peto rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-books
I've read this a few times to my children. The illustrations are amazing, very panoramic, lovingly imagined, carefully detailed. The story, however, always strikes me as oddly incomplete. It has a goal, a sentiment, which is fine, but I'm always left scratching my head a little bit. This Polar Express travels all night bringing masses of children to the North Pole so Santa can choose one to give a first Christmas gift to? That alone doesn't make much sense to me. I refuse to believe that that tr ...more
Isa Lot
Dec 24, 2015 Isa Lot rated it it was amazing
Es un libro precioso, perfecto para leerselo a los niños en navidad. Realmente bonito. Nos cuenta como un niño viaja al polo norte en el mágico expreso polar, allí con todos los elfos reunidos, papa noel elige a uno de los niños que vienen en el expreso polar para darle el primer regalo y luego marchar por los aires con su trineo a repartir los regalos por todo el mundo. Es precioso y cargado de magia e ilusion.
Jul 18, 2016 Dolly rated it liked it
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
I was so hesitant to read this book; I absolutely hated the movie.

I figured it would just be the same, but the parts of the movie I hated, the weird computer-generated animation and the people with soul-less eyes weren't as prevalent in the story.

Plus, of course, it was a whole lot shorter, thus easier to take.

I think our girls enjoyed it, but I definitely don't consider it a Christmas classic. I like the message of keeping Santa alive in your heart and the whole idea of Believing and Faith.
Doree Burt
Oct 23, 2008 Doree Burt rated it it was ok
1986 Caldecott Medal. My favorite page is where the children on the train comfort the boy when he discovered he has lost the bell. That page shows the emotion that the rest of the book strives for. Other than that page, It seemed forced to me, like it was just trying too hard. We have quite a few Christmas books. I don't think I'd ever consider adding this to our holiday collection. I don't think it lives up to its hype. But then again, I think Anderson Cooper and Craig Ferguson are way hotter t ...more
Dec 15, 2015 Jana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Re-read December 15, 2015: I just cried from happiness and nostalgia reading this book.
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Chris was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan on June 18, 1949, the second child of Doris Christiansen Van Allsburg and Richard Van Allsburg. His sister Karen was born in 1947.

Chris’s paternal grandfather, Peter, owned and operated a creamery, a place where milk was turned into butter, cream, cottage cheese, and ice cream. It was named East End Creamery and after they bottled the milk (and made the ot
More about Chris Van Allsburg...

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“At one time, most of my friends could hear the bell, but as years passed, it fell silent for all of them. Even Sarah found one Christmas that she could no longer hear its sweet sound. Though I've grown old, the bell still rings for me, as it does for all who truly believe.” 113 likes
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