The Polar Express is a picture book, written by sculptor turned illustrator/writer Chris Van Allsburg. It won the Caldecott Medal for Children's Literature in 1986. Uploaded by privatelibrary.typepad.com.
Children’s author Chris Van Allsburg created this beautiful Christmas story about a fantasy train that carried children to the North Pole on Christmas Eve to see Santa Claus. One boy in particular is picked up in front of his house, then journies with other kids in their pajamas on this magical adventure.
When he arrives at Santa’s workshop, the boy is chosen by Santa himself to receive the first gift of Christmas. The boy can choose anything in the world he wants, but he asks for a beautiful-sounding silver bell from Santa’s sleigh. He puts the bell in his pocket, but soon realizes in horror that his pocket has a hole
Chris Van Allsburg. Uploaded by barnesandnoble.com.
in it, and the bell is gone. The next morning, however, his sister sees a package with the boy’s name on it at the back of the tree. It’s the bell, of course, which Santa found on the seat of his sleigh.
Director Robert Zemeckis adapted The Polar Express and made it into a live-action animated film, “starring” Tom Hanks. The movie was well received, but it’s the book that still captures the imagination of children with its beautiful and evocative illustrations. It won the Caldecott Medal for Children’s Literature in 1986. Both the book and the movie end with this beautiful quote:
“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.”
Published in 1963, Where the Wild Things Are won the Caldecott Medal as the most distinguished American picture book for children. Uploaded by collider.com.
Where the Wild Things Are, written and illustrated by Maurice Sendak and published almost 50 years ago (1963), still is a favorite of children everywhere. According to HarperCollins publishers, it has sold more than 19 million copies worldwide as of 2008. The book won the Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished picture book of the year.
Poster from the 2009 film. Uploaded by myrabybee.blogspot.com.
The story isn’t all that complicated, which is appropriate for its age group. Young Max puts on a wolf suit, gets into trouble, and gets sent to bed without his supper. Sendak draws monsters that are more likely to tickle than frighten, and his prose breaks rules in a way that kids find hilarious. By the end of the story, Max is ready to go back home, and home is once again ready for him. All is right in his world.
Wild Things has reached a special status now; the children who originally loved it grew up, and got to share it with their children. Now their grandchildren are smitten by it. The book is still in print, and one of the reasons it’s still popular is that its illustrations aren’t dated, those monsters look just as “scary” now as they did when it was first published. Kids still love this book — and their parents still love reading it to them.
Copyright 2009-2011, Robin G. Chalkley. All material on these pages, and the listing of items as Great American Things, is copyrighted. The exceptions are the photographs and videos, which remain the property of their respective owners.
Header photo used courtesy of Flickr photographer too melo.