The Book

The Polar Express buy the bookThe Polar Express
ISBN: 978-0-544-58014-5 • $19.99
1986 Caldecott Medal Winner
12 million copies sold worldwide
A New York Times Best Illustrated Book
A New York Times Bestseller

For millions of readers worldwide, this mysterious journey to the North Pole has become a beloved classic. In this 30th anniversary edition, the inimitable artistry of Chris Van Allsburg is revealed in a never-before-seen fashion, with a new jacket design and expanded interior layout. Includes author’s note, downloadable audio read by Liam Neeson, and golden “All Aboard” ornament.

The Polar Express 30th Anniversary Edition


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

“One of Van Allsburg’s most treasured visions.” —Newsweek

“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.” —The Horn Book Guide

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

Book Summary:

One Christmas Eve many years ago, a boy lies in bed, listening hard for the bells of Santa’s sleigh, which he has been told by a friend do not exist. Later that night he hears not bells but a very different sound. He looks out his window and is astounded to see a steam engine parked in front of his house! The conductor invites him to board the Polar Express, a train filled with children on their way to the North Pole.

The train takes the children to the center of the city, where Santa and the elves have gathered for the giving of the first gift of Christmas. The boy is chosen to receive this first gift. Knowing that he can choose anything in the world, he decides on a simple gift: one silver bell from Santa’s sleigh. Santa cuts a bell from a reindeer’s harness and the delighted boy slips it into his bathrobe pocket as the clock strikes midnight and the reindeer pull the sleigh into the sky.

When the children return to the train, the boy realizes the bell has fallen through a hole in his pocket. Heartbroken, he is returned to his home. In the morning, his little sister finds one small box with the boy’s name on it among the presents. Inside is the silver bell! The boy and his sister are enchanted by its beautiful sound, but their parents cannot hear it. The boy continues to believe in the spirit of Christmas and is able to hear the sweet ringing of the bell even as an adult.