I previously blogged about my sister’s amazing trip to the Storybook Sculpture Project in Abilene, Texas, which is themed on a variety of children’s storybooks. Now I’m inspired to write about The Polar Express — the book itself, the movie, and the extremely popular THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Rides around the nation and worldwide. More than 1.4 million at 54 locations in the US, Canada, and the UK rode The Polar Express in 2019.
My sister, with her husband, daughter, son-in-law, and adorable grandson, hopped aboard THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride at the Galveston Railroad Museum — wearing pajamas! Off they went on the one-hour roundtrip to the North Pole, set to the sounds of the motion picture soundtrack, to meet Santa. This journey took place the weekend after Thanksgiving, with absolutely gorgeous weather. What a grand adventure!
My little grandnephew loves trains, and as a two-year-old toddler, enjoyed all the indoor and outdoor activities and festivities. There is no cuter kid on the planet, as you’ll soon see below. Last year, he was a bit shy around strangers, but this year he was a lively little guy. Not even Skinny Santa intimidated him!
What Makes A Good Children’s Storybook?
You can bet my grandnephew is getting a copy of The Polar Express for Christmas. This classic was written by master storyteller Chris Van Allsburg and published on January 1, 1985. He also wrote and illustrated the children’s picture book Jumanji, published in 1981 (both by publishing house Houghton Mifflin and later adapted to film). The Polar Express won the Caldecott Medal and has been a New York Times bestseller with more than six and a half million copies sold, and more every December!
So, The Polar Express is a huge source of inspiration for authors of today’s children’s storybooks. Articles in the New Yorker, WNYC Radio, Giant Bookshelf, Kindlepreneur, Today, and Reedsy provide tips about what makes a great children’s storybook (and even a bestseller). These sources dive into the value of illustration, storyline, target audience, and marketing.
However, no one truly knows why lightning strikes for some authors and not others. Lucky breaks? Good contacts? A publisher that believes in your work? A heavy social media presence if you self-publish?
Personally, I’m writing a children’s storybook series for my grandnephew simply because I know he’ll cherish his mom (my niece) reading to him and seeing his name on the pages. Yes, it will be illustrated, it will delightfully rhyme, and it will be marketed…but not necessarily for commercial riches. I feel my books should be available for my nephew and other kiddos for learning and entertainment reasons, and if lightning strikes, then great!
Who Needs Help with Children’s Storybooks?
Email email@example.com, and let’s get started!