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4.9 out of 5 stars
4.9 out of 5 stars
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on December 2, 2002
Oh, what a beautiful book this is! I've owned this book for over fifteen years, and every year during the holiday season I take it down from the shelf and read it, and I am immediately taken back into time. For the few minutes that it takes me to read this book I once again become a child full of wonder and innocence. I begin to believe in the magic of the holiday season, and yes, for a moment I even believe in Santa Claus again.
This is the story of a boy lucky enough to ride The Polar Express to the North Pole on one magical night to see Santa Claus and his elves. While the destination is exciting, the real fun is riding in this train full of children, all dressed in their pajamas and snacking on cookies and milk. The story is beautifully told by Chris Van Allsburg, but the real reason why reading this book is an annual tradition for me is the brilliance of the illustrations. The pictures are painstakingly detailed, especially the beautiful images of the train, the light from the stars in the sky, and the fallen snow.
While Santa Claus is incorporated into the story and the illustrations, he is not the focal point. The crux of this book centers around this train, the wintery environment, and the youthful magic that makes it all so special.
I am now 22-years-old, and this book is just as compelling for me today as it was when I was 5. I look forward to the day when I will have children of my own and will be able to make it an annual tradition to read this book to them. This book is a must-have for anyone's personal library, especially if you are a parent, a child, or a child-at-heart like me. I give this book the highest of recommendations.
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on November 15, 2004
I bought this CD before I saw the movie and was very pleasantly surprised, it is a mix of original songs by Alan Silvestri and classic christmas favourites. While seeing the movie helps you to understand the songs better, you don't need to in order to appreciate Silvestri's new songs. With Rockin' on Top of the World sung by Steven Tyler and Josh Groban's Believe combined with songs from the movie and very famous classics that include Bing Crosby's White Christmas and songs from Frank Sinatra and Perry Como this album is great for your next holiday party or for lifting your Christmas spirit!
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on March 12, 2002
This amazingly illustrated Christmas story about a little boy who is anxiously awaiting Santa�s visit on Christmas Eve. When he hears a train whistle he runs outside to meet a beautiful train which takes him to the North Pole where he is given the first Christmas present, a bell from Santa�s sleigh. Sadly when he returns home he finds that the bell is missing. It had slipped through a hole in his pocket. The disappointed little boy returns to bed. On Christmas morning he opens a small box to find his sleigh bell nestled inside. The parents complement the beautiful bell. But oddly it does not make a sound. Only the little boy really knows the truth that only the people who truly believe in Santa Claus can hear the bells ring.
I love this story. I used to love having this story read to me. With the recent reading of it I remembered just how much I love the story and illustrations. The pictures are amazing, add that to the story and this book completely captures the season of Christmas. The author does a wonderful job with the miracle of Christmas. The author illustrate with word and picture the importance of the miracle of Christmas and how important it is for you to believe in that miracle. As well as all the miracles life has to offer, all it takes is a little bit of faith and imagination.
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on November 5, 2004
When I was little this was my favorite book. My aunt would read it each Christmas and I now read it to my children. Chris Van Allsburg's holiday classic is full of great illustrations and you can literally feel the coldness of Christmas Eve long ago. The story is haunting and timeless and will probably be around for years to come. And it's not just for children--I still enjoy it myself!
Would also recommend another great read titled "The Children's Corner" by Jackson McCrae. While it's NOT a children's book, it will be very much enjoyed by adults, especially the one story "Christmas Comes But Once a Year." Really great stuff.
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on November 21, 2006
"Polar Express" captures the Christmas spirit of children and makes it contagious! The illustrations are wonderfully magical and draw you into the story in ways that go far beyond words. This book is about the true meaning of Christmas and the faith of a young child who understood it. It is a wonderful book for kids at that age where they are beginning to doubt the magic of the holiday. It is a great Christmas gift for any child. Another great children's book for slightly older kids is "Why Some Cats Are Rascals" - a very touching, inspiring and educational story showing the world from cats' perspective.
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on October 14, 2005
This is one of those rare books that is unforgettable! The vividness of the author's description and the enchanting illustrations are fabulous.
I'm glad the "powers that be" who make movies, chose this awesome book for an animated, graphic movie. It was beautiful to watch. Inspirational!
This holiday classic should be kept by your Christmas tree every year and re-read ... even when your children are grown ... and ESPECIALLY when your children have children of their own.
A haunting tale of a little boy and ... Well, read for yourself!
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon November 19, 2015
I’ve always wanted to get this book to read during the Christmas season. So I was very pleased to have the opportunity to get a copy of the 30th Anniversary Edition of the book.

Contrary to the movie, the story in the book is not that long. Beautiful illustrations are complementing the story as you go through the pages. The story is simple and will present the magic of Santa Claus. The book itself is a hardcover book and would make a wonderful book to discover during the season of Christmas.

Personally, I really enjoy this story and I have no problem to read this book and watch the movie with my children. However, I know that for many Christian parents the subject of Santa Claus is a touchy subject. We have decided not to dwell too long on Santa because it is a fictitious character. We prefer emphasizing the birth of Christ in our yearly celebration. The book is a beautiful story which bring joy to the kids when I read it. The important thing for us during the season is to spend time as a family. Reading together brings memory. And this book will be part of our memories this year.

And to complete the book, a gold All Aboard ornament can be found at the back of the story. Also, you have the possibility to download the story in order to put it on your portable device and allow your children to listen to it while you are driving. You can also visit to discover activities, recipes, and a Christmas Countdown calendar.
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on December 2, 2004
I am most positive in saying that it is impossible that you could not like this book...whatever age you might be. After all, the real goal of Children's books is not just to inspire the children, but to remind us all about our own childhoods. The drawings are almost Victorian in form and are incredibly detailed, which adds to the power and magic of the book. It would make a wonderful Christmas gift for a child, and is a joy to read as an adult.
There are loads of Christmas themed children's books out there for this age range. Many are mediocre or just plain garbage. This book is in the superior category and a "must own". I must also recommend another book, this one for adults though, titled "The Children's Corner" by Jackson McCrae. I came across it while looking for other books for my kids, and, while it's NOT for children, it was great fun for me, especially the story "Christmas Comes But Once a Year" which about those awful Christmas letter the relatives send. A must for this time of year.
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on February 22, 2004
It must be nice to have written a real holiday classic. I imagine that author Chris Van Allsburg must be tickled pink by way his book, "The Polar Express" has slowly gained increasing attention and praise as the years have gone by. Though not my favorite Van Allsburg (a tip of the hat grants his miraculous "The Stranger" that honor) this book is perhaps more perfectly his style than any of his other texts. And in that way, it is truly wondrous.
In this story, a young boy travels at night by a train bearing the book's title to the North Pole with a host of other antsy children. This combines the dual pleasure kids would feel in getting to staying up late AND taking a train all by themselves. Once at the North Pole, our hero asks Santa only for a silver bell from his reindeer's sleigh. Santa complies and though the boy looses the bell on his way home, Santa returns it to him. For years afterwards, only those who truly believe can hear the bell's magical ring (which, actually, explains why adults cannot hear Santa fly overhead at night, I suppose).
It's a lovely story, complimented nicely with Van Allsburg's realistic (but not photo-realistic) illustrations. Particularly nice is how the story does not date. Though it clearly takes place at a time when children wore dressing gowns, it does not feel as if it is a period piece. The kids traveling on the train are slightly multi-cultural and the waiters on the train delightful in their white puffy hats.
This book is so well loved that it has actually inspired whole communities to create their own makeshift Polar Expresses. On these trains, kids are served hot cocoa "as thick and rich as melted chocolate bars" while grown-ups read them the book. They then meet Santa and go home contented and happy. Unfortunately, as charming as this may seem, it may be greatly exploited with the late 2004 release of the CGI film version of the book. My advice is to grab this book right now, regardless of whether it's Christmas or not, and read it to your kids thoroughly. Such nice stories as this deserve extensive attention. Let us all hope that this story sinks deeply into the canon of picture books beloved by millions of kids the wide world over. It's a class act through and through.
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on January 8, 2004
Gorgeous illustrations.
Amazingly mesmerizing language, almost poetry.
Magical story about Santa's visit on Christmas Eve. Santa, however, arrives on a train instead of a sleigh, and he takes the boy on a train ride to the North Pole (a trip that is so exquisitely illustrated that you can come to believe it's real), where, from among hundreds, he's chosen to receive the first Christmas present, which he can choose. He could choose anything, anything at all - and he chooses one of the bells from Santa's sleigh, which is loaded, ready and waiting.
When he returns home and the train pulls away, he's devastated to discover the bell has fallen through a hole in his pocket. What happens next to restore this child's believe in Christmas magic.
Buy the book and find out. Buy it. But it now and read it yearly at Christmas. When your kids grow up and leave home, read it to yourself. Then read it to grandchildren. Take it to your retirement community and keep reading it.
For sure.
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