Monday, December 10, 2007

Christmas is coming!

It's time to get Christmasy. Today's holiday Rainbow Book is an obvious classic. So widely known that I considered not posting it. But then Mr. Cropper told me he has never read it, which led me to wonder if there are others of you out there who haven't read this greatie, or don't own it? (Because you should. It needs to be in your Christmas stack, just under The Grinch Who Stole Christmas and just on top of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas.)

Today's book is The Polar Express, written and illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg. (He did Jumanji and Zathura as well, if that helps you get your author-bearings.) Of course there has been a movie since, as with Jumanji and Zathura. Movies are visually amazing of course, but in this case I prefer Van Allsburg's illustrations. The Polar Express, in fact, won the Caldecott medal in 1986. The paintings are large and exquisite; rich in color and detail. They make me want to cozy up by a fire and watch the snow fall down outside. Hot cocoa is involved in that wish, too. That's how good Van Allsburg is at eliciting that wintery, Christmasy feeling.

The story is a gem. In it, a boy boards the Polar Express one winter's night, and rides to the North Pole with scads of other children, clad in their jammies. They sing Christmas carols and drink hot chocolate. The train climbs mountains, crosses the Great Polar Ice Cap, and eventually reaches the North Pole, the streets of which are crowded with Santa's helpers. The boy is chosen to receive the first gift of Christmas and humbly asks for one bell from a reindeer's harness. He slips the bell into his pocket, but when he reaches for it back on the home-bound train, he feels nothing but a hole in his pocket. Devastated, he returns home. But don't you worry. This story has the most happy, magical ending of any story you've ever read. It makes me tear up every year! Please read this book! Please own this book! Please give this book to someone who doesn't! You will love it.

5 comments:

emilyanne said...

This is one of my very favorites. The illustrations are exquisite. We like the movie, too.

danielle said...

Taylor never reading this makes me think of when he gave you crap for never having seen Mary Poppins. I guess you are even now. Did you know they do a Heber Creeper Polar Express trip? They read the book while you eat cookies and drink cocoa. Sounds like fun...maybe Blaine would like to go next year. I think it goes all month of December. Oh sad...I just realized you won't be here next year. Ok better go this year!

liz said...

I love this book. Found the movie a little tedious though. We went on the Polar Express trip in Ohio (Cuyahoga Valley Railroad) -- it was super fun. I'd wait to take Blaine until he's old enough to remember it, though -- it's a little expensive!

Eric, Halcyon, Viana and Brooke said...

I really really need to read this book! (I'm a 25 year old Scrooge, I know!) The movie only made me think, "Hm, bad movie, but great story, so must be an even better book!"

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