Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Booky Advent Calendar Day 16: "The Polar Express" by Chris Van Allsburg (Andersen Children's Books)

The Polar Express

Written and Illustrated by
Chris Van Allsburg

Published by Andersen Children's Books

Chris Van Allsburg's books always have a wonderful touch of the magical and surreal about them and never more so than in this utterly perfect christmas tale. Forget what you know about the CGI movie based on this (though, actually we really love the movie too!) - dip into the book which is one of the most atmospheric and perfectly paced christmas stories ever written for children.

We always make a habit of digging this out in the run-up to Christmas. It's the tale of a young boy who boards a magical train that shudders to a halt outside his door one Christmas Eve. The train guard loudly announces that the train is destined for the North Pole, and the passengers will meet Santa! What child could possibly resist!?

Amazing refreshments are served (just reading Van Allsburg's descriptions of the hot chocolate in this book make your mouth water!) and the train gallops through the landscape before arriving at all points north.

The young boy is miraculously chosen by Santa to receive the first christmas gift and he chooses something fairly humble, a bell from Santa's sleigh. But on the way back home the boy realises that he put the bell in his nightgown pocket - and that pocket has a hole in it!

The bell is lost, and the boy is downcast. But with the magic and spirit of christmas, will the boy's christmas wish come true after all?

We've read this so many times - which is why you'll always see a tiny bell somewhere on our christmas tree. We shake the bell to see if everyone can hear it (if you read this story you'll understand why).

An utterly perfect christmas tale. If you only know the movie, or have never seen either, then you definitely need this book on your christmas list!

Charlotte's best bit: As the boy grows older he can still hear the bell, even though his parents (and eventually his sister) can't

Daddy's Favourite bit: Utterly and completely magical. We love Van Allsburg's books but this is our absolute favourite.