The Polar Express

Picture Book Analysis

Literary Elements

The illustrations in the Polar Express help the reader understand the story more as a whole. Each page focuses on a main setting in the story, so your eyes only concentrate on that. That helps the reader understand the plot, because the visualizes are easily seen and understand. The character's in the Polar Express are limited, so the reader really gets to understand who each character is by their facial expressions and how they act through the oil paintings. The reader could look at each face and understand if they are happy, sad, anxious etc. The setting and theme of the story is mostly the same throughout the book. The color patterns of each page do not vary that much because the setting is at night and on a train, in the wilderness or at the north pole. By the color scheme staying dark, the reader is able to understand where the story takes place. Overall, the visualizes that are in the Polar Express, help readers, especially those readers who may be younger.

Visual Elements

The visual elements in the Polar Express are carefully executed to portray this book how the author intended. Each picture take up 3/4 of both the left and right page with few words belong side of it. This lets the reader look at the picture, and really get a feeling for what the character is going through or it puts a mental image in each readers mind. The lines in this book are mainly used to outline the details of curtains, beds, or the trains for example. Because each image looks like it was done with oil pastils, everything looks as though it blends together. The snow looks like it was painted on overtop, giving it a different texture than the rest of the picture. The colors as mentioned previously are darker because the setting is at night time. Colors include brown, red, black, white and green. This book was written in first person, which gives it a personal feel for all little children to relate to on the night of Christmas Eve. The first few pages describe a little boy who is excited on Christmas Eve night but can not sleep because he is excited for santa to arrive. The boy hear's a noise and looks outside only to see a huge train waiting for him... The pictures help the reader see how anxious the boy was, as well as they can get a sense for his facial expressions and his age. The visual elements were important to understanding the story.

Physical Features

The physical features of this book follow the format of most picture books. It has glossy paper that is on all of the pages. The cover of the book is a picture of the Polar Express which is the train. It represents what the book is going to be about as the boy takes a journey on the Polar Express. The size of the book is normal as well as the shape which is a square book. This all contributes to the book because it helps the reader understand the reading better.

Artistic Style and Media

The Polar Express could be considered realistic or impressionistic. The pictures are done with oil pastels and are highlighted very well to give each picture a "real" feeling. These features contribute to the meaning of this book because the reader can recognize the detail of each character yet some pages are done so people are blurred together giving the reader a chance to imagine what is going on in the story.

Elements of Illustration

Many if not all of the images are framed in the middle of the page. The framing makes each picture stand out because the pictures are so large across the page, the framing makes you focus on each picture. The sequence of each picture goes along with the story which adds to the meaning of the story because it is easy to follow along.

Interplay of Text and Illustrations

The text and illustrations work together in creating the story because it helps the reader understand the purpose of the story. Because the illustration takes up most of the page, it makes the realize focus on that and they can interpret the words how they want. The story is easy to follow along and great read.


"The Polar Express." Children's Literature Book Reviews /. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Feb. 2016.

"The Fletch Word." : The Ultimate Polar Express Analysis. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Feb. 2016.