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The Polar Express
Children's Literature with Dr. Vardell

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My review of THE POLAR EXPRESS by Chris Van Allsburg

Van Allsburg, Chris. 1985.THE POLAR EXPRESS. Houghton Mifflin Company. ISBN: 0-395-38949-6


Tunnell, M. and Jacobs. J.2000. CHILDREN'S LITERATURE, BRIEFLY (second edition). Merrill. ISBN: 0-13-096214-7


            The Polar Express Christmas storybook is a delight. The illustrations, are done in the subtle hues of a snowy winter night. The book seems to have a dream like state to it. According to the book Children's Literature, Briefly use of lines on the page of forest trees create a static look, as if it is a photograph. Van Allsburgs use of shadows also causes many of the pictures to appear three dimensional, as if one could step right into the scene. He uses light to illuminate scenes, such as the sun reflecting on the snowy mountain, or the light spilling from windows, which brings another depth to his artwork.


Van Allsburgs gift to the world is sharing his incredible talent, both in verse and illustration, which appeals to the young and the young at heart. The story is of a young boy who is whisked off, from his very own front yard to the North Pole on a train, with other pajama-clad believers in Santa, all whom are children. When they get there the boy is given a choice of gifts from all that Santa offers. The childs chooses a simple bell from Santas sleigh. Tension rises in the story when the boy discovers that he has lost the bell on the trip home. The illustrations are so sweet on this page as Van Allsburg captures the feelings of the other children who are wide-eyed and sympathetic at the sad news of the lost bell. It ends happily when the child opens a gift from Santa on Christmas morn, his bell that had fallen from a hole in his pocket and a note from Santa himself.


His parents think that it is broken because they can't hear its ring. The author, now an adult, claims that he can still hear it. Can you?

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