I'm not sure what made me think of this book all of a sudden. But I'm pretty sure it was the hot chocolate I was making for myself, which reminded me of the "cocoa thick as melted chocolate bars" that the young boy drank while on his way to the North Pole.

This was one of my favorite Christmas stories to listen to when I was a child. By the time I got the book as a present, I was beyond the point of believing in elves and Santa Claus. But The Polar Express is one of those books that make you believe, if only for the length of the story.

Written in the first person and in the past tense, the story has the nostalgic feel of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. The young unnamed boy recounts one Christmas Eve, when he was sitting awake listening for the sound of sleigh bells. Instead, he heard the whistling of a train. After stepping outside, he saw a train stopped outside his house, waiting for him. This was The Polar Express, and it was taking him and hundreds of other children to the North Pole, for this Christmas' opening ceremonies.

The young boy is chosen to recieve the first gift of Christmas. Knowing he could choose anything he wants, he asks only for a bell from a reindeer's harness. Unfortunately, on the train ride home, the boy realizes the bell has dropped out of a hole in his housecoat pocket.

The next morning, a small unmarked package was found under the tree. Inside is the bell, and a small note from old Santa himself explaining that he found it on the seat of his sleigh.

But the boy's parents are deaf to the bell's beautiful music. He recounts how as the years went by less and less of his schoolmates could hear it's sweet sound. But the bell has always sounded true to him, and to all those who truly believe.

An inspiring and visually stunning book. One that I will read to my children one day.