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The Polar Express

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  221,129 ratings  ·  3,648 reviews
The Polar Express is a treasured holiday tradition. This lavish gift set includes a CD audio recording read by Liam Neeson, a keepsake "All Aboard" ornament, and a note from author Chris Van Allsburg.

Awarded the prestigious Caldecott Medal in 1986, The Polar Express has sold more than 7 million copies, become a classic holiday movie, and been translated into stage producti
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published 2000 by Houghton Mifflin (first published October 28th 1985)
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Average rating 4.31  · 
Rating details
 ·  221,129 ratings  ·  3,648 reviews

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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
When Books Make You Cry

While clearing out a room this weekend I came across The Polar Express Book and boy did it just bring memories rushing back and the tears flowed but in a good way. I decided to save it for bedtime reading last night and this book is just as wonderful toady as it was when I first read it to my son when he was 4 years old which was the same year the movie came out too.

It’s a beautiful vivid and enchanting story that Kids and I think adults never tire of too and as I turned
Kylie D
Dec 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful and delightful book. The kids will love it. I just found the illustrations to be a bit creepy...
Bionic Jean
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",
5 Believe ★'s

“Seeing is believing, but sometimes the most real things in the world are the things we can't see.”

Read/audiobook this for the very first time the other day with my little niece and we both love it!!! The story was sweet and very enjoyable. The narrator is Liam Neeson!!!! Ohhh, I love love love his voice and let me tell you he did NOT disappoint whatsoever! This is definitely gonna be a Christmas favorite around here :) I absolutely love the illustrations too! I will recommend
Dec 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Christmas favorite we read every year. Beautiful story and illustrations. A must!
Dec 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: christmas-2020

"Merry Christmas!"

This book is a tradition of mine to read every year during Christmas. This season wouldn't be complete without the Polar Express! This is the best Christmas book EVER!
Nov 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just love the sound of those old vintage sleigh bells.....and my ride on THE POLAR EXPRESS!

Wonderfully magical. Beautifully illustrated.

Dec 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Re-read 2020! My absolute favorite Christmas story/picture book! It isn't Christmas without the Polar Express! 🎅🏼❄️🎄💕

Every year around Christmas time I read this incredible book.🎄I have grown up with this story, reading the book and watching the film! They are both a very important part of how I celebrate the holidays! As an illustrator myself, I adore this picture book with all of my heart! It is pure magic, and will forever make me believe in the spirit of Santa Claus!!🎅🏻
Chris Van Allsburg is
Just gave a little nudge to my sleeping Christmas Spirit who rolled over and said, "come back in two months". ...more
Although I really do much appreciate both the story (the presented narrative) and the accompanying illustrations, Chris Van Allsburg's The Polar Express ultimately does indeed feel but mildly entertaining and actually also manages to leave me rather flat and strangely unsatisfied.

Now Van Allsburg's text reads sweetly and to a point evocatively enough (but also rather on the surface, rather removed from what I would label as personal emotionality) and so much so that I never do feel all that eng
Dec 26, 2015 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 sto
Maja  - BibliophiliaDK ✨
Dec 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics
Sweet, short and Christmas-y - just the bit of Christmas magic you need to get you in the mood 😄
Dec 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christmas
I read this little book last night while I was in bed listening to a train on my magical white noise box.Trains and bells, I love them both. If only this little magical box had temple bells and wind chimes, which we have in our yard, but with our back porch’s bedroom door closed during these cold winter nights, I don’t hear them; instead I hear silence.

As a child, I remember listening to sounds at night as I lay in bed. I never heard Santa’s sleigh bells; instead I heard the neighbors' dogs bark
Nov 30, 2008 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
Dec 19, 2015 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
Dec 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Brings back wonderful memories for me. A childhood favorite (and timeless classic). Beautiful story and gorgeous illustrations.
Sheila Majczan
Sep 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is one of those classics I read over and over again with my children and with my kindergarten students. The movie is also lovely.
Mackenzie Lane
Dec 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: for-kids
Not the first time I've read this book (obviously) but I read it again for the Oh What Fun Readathon & it adds a book to my yearly total so 💁🏼

Dec 02, 2011 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
Last autumn friends from Texas visited. We had a wonderful time, so when they left after two weeks we really missed them. Just before christmas a package arrived with some gifts from Texas. The best part was this Childrens classic. I never even knew it was a book, beside the film. Shame on me.

The Polar Express is a story about a boy who travels to the north pole with the polar express train. He receives the first christmas gift from Santa. And it's a very special gift for true believers:

'I shoo
Dec 24, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: childrens
This is one of my favorite Christmas movies (thank you nephew because you introduced me to it when you were a child) and I was really happy to find this book in the table in the same household that introduced me to it.
It’s a wonderful kids book and just the most precious story.
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've seen the movie a few years ago, but when I read this for storytime at work, it was my first time to actually read the story. Excellent art and sweet story...but I don't quite agree with the emphasis on "believe in Santa"... Could be a little confusing for small kids—unless, of course, you're intending to make them believe fully in Santa as the bringer of gifts. It pairs very nicely with the movie.

2017: Again, chosen reader of the book for work storytime. :)
Sep 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book will forever remind me of my kids when they were young and their eyes still sparkled with the magic of Christmas. The illustrations are beautiful and makes me want to watch the movie. ( My kids love the train and the hot chocolate song in the movie.)
“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
Jeanette (Ms. Feisty)
Nov 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Jeanette (Ms. Feisty) by: ShayReadsAndDreams
This book didn't exist when I was a wee lass, but if it had, I'm sure I would have loved it. A midnight train ride to the North Pole for kids only? A special bell that can only be heard by those who believe? What's not to love?

The illustrations create the mood. They are dark and shadowy but at the same time colorful, evoking the adventure and mystery of the excursion. I especially liked the one of the wolves watching the train through the trees.

I have just one reason for not giving this a fifth
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 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone Looking for Beautiful Christmas Eve Picture-Books
It's easy to see why this lovely Christmas picture-book was awarded the Caldecott Medal in 1986, as the artwork is simply breathtaking! Opening as a young boy lies in his bed one Christmas Eve night, eagerly waiting for the sound of Santa's reindeer, it spins a fantastic tale involving a train ride north, on the Polar Express, an encounter with Santa Claus, and a special gift that allows the young boy to keep the spirit of the season alive all of his life...

So many of the scenes here are simply
Jeff Raymond
Oct 12, 2010 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.

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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

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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.” 152 likes
“Seeing is believing, but sometimes the most real things in the world are the things we can't see.” 37 likes
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