The Polar Express

by Chris Van Allsburg (Author)

The Polar Express
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

1986 Caldecott Medal Winner

A magical train ride on Christmas Eve takes a boy to the North Pole to receive a special gift from Santa Claus.

A young boy, lying awake one Christmas Eve, is welcomed aboard a magical trip to the North Pole . . . Through dark forests, over tall mountains, and across a desert of ice, the Polar Express makes its way to the city atop the world, where the boy will make his Christmas wish.

For millions of readers worldwide, this mysterious journey to the North Pole has become a beloved classic.


As always, the forms are sculptured, the perspectives as dazzling as they are audacious, the colors rich and elegant, the use of light and shadow masterly.

Review quotes

The best book about Santa. —Entertainment Weekly

The Polar Express is magic indeed. —The New York Times

Allsburg's mix of meticulousness and mysticism is his own, and his quiet Christmas bell, now run, will not stop ringing.—Adam Gopnik, author of The King in the Window

The sumptuous pastel effects make this one of Van Allsburg's most treasured visions. —Newsweek

Even the most hardened Santa doubters might find in The Polar Express the faith to believe again. —American Bookseller 
Chris Van Allsburg
Chris Van Allsburg is the winner of two Caldecott Medals, for Jumanji and The Polar Express, a Caldecott Honor for The Garden of Abdul Gasazi, the National Book Award for book illustration and the Regina Medal for lifetime achievement in children's literature. He lives in Massachusetts with his wife and two children. Visit his website at
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Clarion Books
Publication date
September 20, 2015
BISAC categories
JUV007000 - Juvenile Fiction | Classics
JUV037000 - Juvenile Fiction | Fantasy & Magic
JUV017010 - Juvenile Fiction | Holidays & Celebrations | Christmas & Advent
JUV041050 - Juvenile Fiction | Transportation | Railroads & Trains
Library of Congress categories
Caldecott Medal Winner 1986
ALA Notable Book for Children
A New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Book of the Year
Booklist Editors' Choice
Horn Book Fanfare Selection
Reading Rainbow Review Book

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