Fairfield Middle School, Fairfield
Dear Chris Van Allsburg,
Your book The Polar Express changed me a lot. In second grade I was bullied because of my size, my good grades, and the fact that I was Indian. I used to be pushed around, and I didn't do anything to protect myself. My second grade teacher, Mrs. Kann, helped me a lot. She gave me your book The Polar Express, and it told me to believe. I believed in Santa, and the "bell" is still ringing for me, but that's not the reason your book changed my life. Those seven letters (believe) made me understand that I needed to stand up for myself, and I did. I told my friends, and they stood by my side the whole time. I finally understood that if you believed you could do anything then it is possible.
A week later, the bullying was gone, like it had never been there at all. I later discovered that we had a substitute teacher. I didn't understand why Mrs. Kann was gone, but then I got some horrifying news, Mrs. Kann had been diagnosed with lung cancer. To me, this was absolutely devastating, but I believed she would come back. By the time second grade ended, she still hadn't come back. I was home, and my mother got a call. I remember seeing her smile fading. The cancer had won, and there was no Mrs. Kann anymore. I remember crying all day holding a picture of Mrs. Kann and me together. I felt as if I had lost my family, but I believed she was still there looking over me. When I read your book I don't think about the bad memories I had with my friends and Mrs. Kann. The Polar Express reminds me of all the obstacles I'll have to face in life, I might lose things along the way, but eventually I will reach my destination. Many people lose someone on their journey, but eventually their train will get there...only if they believe that their train can get there. Your book was magic. There was magic in the words, there was magic in the pictures, the book was simply magic. Thank you for everything you have done, Chris Van Allsburg. Even if you don't know it, you have changed my life. Thank you very much.