The Polar Express, written and illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg, was published in 1985. This book also received the Caldecott Medal Award. There was 7 million copies sold worldwide. This picture book is about one Christmas Eve a little boy was invited to board the Polar Express, a train filled with children on their way to the North Pole. The boy is chosen to receive the first gift. Knowing he can choose anything in the world, he decides on a simple gift: one silver bell from Santa's sleigh. .
As author and illustrator, Van Allsburg uses detailed illustrations and calm, relaxing details throughout the story. He illustrates beautiful pictures of Christmas settings of cities, mountains, and towns covered with bright lights and sparkled white snow. The literacy elements used best are, description, and theme. The theme is based on themes of believing and the magic of Christmas. The boy boards the train a little skeptical but meets other children who possibly had the same feelings. The conductor leads the way for them to get back their childhood view of Santa and finally, Santa in person proves himself to be real. The plot in the story is a young boy who loves Christmas. He aboard the Polar Express. On the train children are in their pajamas and drinking hot chocolate. As the train nears the North Pole the children sees thousands of Christmas elves gathered awaiting on Santa Clause. The boy is then handpicked by Santa to receive the first gift. Realizing that he can have anything in the world the boy ask for one bell from one of the reindeers harnesses. The boy places the bell in his pocket of his robe. The boy notices that the bell is gone from his pocket. On Christmas morning his sister finds a small package for him under the tree. The boy opens the box and discovers it's the bell delivered by Santa who found it on the sleigh. .
In this book the illustrations enhanced the theme. With bleak, gray, snow scenes of the home of the child.