Sunday, December 23, 2007

A No-Show on The Polar Express

For twenty-one Christmas seasons, Chris Van Allsburg's Caldecott Medal winning The Polar Express has been a favorite holiday gift to young readers and the nostalgic among us. It's been the perennial Christmas bestseller: 250,000+ copies per year.

Originally published in 1985 (with a complete makeover in 2005, re-mastering Allsburg's original oil-pastel paintings), the children's picture book even spawned an animated movie in 2004, boosting sales of the hardcover that year to over one million copies. But this year, The Polar Express was a no-show on the bestseller lists. For the first time in memory, there was no listing of the title on The New York Times Children's Bestseller List in the months and weeks leading up to Christmas.

Of course, hundreds of children's picture books celebrating Christmas (including this one) are in competition with each other; so it's no surprise when any single title falls off the list. But lament not. Consider: there are reportedly eight million copies of The Polar Express in print, making the title the best-selling Christmas themed children's picture book of all time (not including, of course, the many pictoral interpretations of Clement Moore's poem Twas the Night Before Christmas). A great legacy for Chris Van Allsburg.