August 30, 2015

The Challenge Continues . . . Buckeye Book Award Reading Challenge 1991

And the reading challenge continues!  As stated in a previous post, my librarian friend Ashley Lambacher of the Book Talker and I are hosting the Buckeye Book Award Reading Challenge.  Our goal is to read all the past winners from the children’s book category in chronological order from 1982 to the present.  I will read the K-2 picture book winners and Ashley will read the 4-8/3-5 chapter book winners.  Because 1990 was skipped, today I continue my challenge by reading the winner of the K-2 Buckeye Book Award in 1991, Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg.

 The Polar Express is an old-fashioned steam train that takes lucky children to the North Pole on Christmas Eve to see Santa himself as he sets off in his sleigh to deliver presents.  The story follows a young boy who is chosen to ride the Polar Express, meet Santa, and be selected as the first child to receive a gift on Christmas Eve.  He wishes for, and receives, a silver bell from a reindeer’s harness.  As he boards the train to return home, he puts the silver bell in his pocket for safe keeping.  However, the bell becomes lost through a hole in the bottom of his pocket.  But Santa is magic and he finds the bell and puts it under the boys tree.  For years to come, the sound of the bell remained a symbol of the boy’s magical adventure.  After a while, the boy's sister and all of his friends can no longer hear the bell.
"Though I've grown old, the bell still rings for me as it does for all who truly believe." This is a wonderful book for those who truly believe in the spirit of Christmas. 

This story  is amazing, but Van Allsburg’s illustrations are simply spectacular.  The full-page images are like detailed pictures from a movie with theatrical lighting.  They bring the story to life with vivid detail – as a reader almost feel chilled by the frosty illustrations.  The colors are muted and the images are fuzzy, giving the pictures a dream-like appeal – which is suitable since this story is told by an adult retelling his symbolic adventure from childhood.  It’s no surprise that the Polar Express won the Caldecott Medal in 1986.  It remains a remarkable work of art and a traditional read for many families every Christmas.  The Polar Express is a fitting winner for the 1991 Buckeye Book Award.

Ashley, your upcoming 1991 Buckeye Book Award read is There’s a Boy in the Girl’s Bathroom by Sachar. I’m looking forward to hearing your critique. 

Would you like to join Ashley and I as we read through Ohio’s award winning books?  We welcome any and all who are interested in participating in this fun reading challenge.  For more information, click here.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, what a great selection the kids made! I'm not at all surprised that it won a Caldecott Medal and a Buckeye Children's Book Award. I still hear older kids talk about how this book has impacted them, or the memories they have tied to this book.

    I agree with you -- the illustrations are simply stunning. I've always been a big fan of Van Allsburg, but it never fails to amaze me how detailed and imaginative his illustrations are. They are truly works of art. His books will forever be classics, and The Polar Express will be at the top.