AYER — Ayer Kiddie Depot prekindergarten teacher Tara Bozek is excited to share her holiday spirit with the children she works with.
“The kids are so excited, and they love to read some of the classic holiday books and sing fun songs,” she said.
One of those books is Chris Van Allsburg’s “The Polar Express,” which was voted no. 10 on the National Education Association’s Top 100 Children’s Books of 2007.
Van Allsburg’s Caldecott Award-winning piece chronicles the journey of a little boy. Struggling with his desire to believe in Santa Claus and the magic of Christmas, he hears the whistle of a mystical train that takes him to the North Pole to visit the man in red.
After being picked by Santa to receive the first gift of the holiday, he realizes that he could pick anything in the world, but he chooses a bell from Santa’s sleigh. When he is returned home, he is saddened to see that he lost the bell through a hole in the pocket of his robe.
After opening presents, he spots a small box behind the tree that contains the lost bell. Though he and his sister can hear the bell’s sweet sound, his parents can’t because they don’t truly believe in the magic of the season.
Bozek said she’s read the book to her students many times over the years.
But she doesn’t stop there. She turns Ayer Kiddie Depot into a magical train each year to recreate this classic for her 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds. There are golden tickets for all of the passengers along with hot cocoa and sweet treats just like the ones shown in the story and movie adaptation released in 2004.
“All of the children wear their pajamas and get excited for the ride and the magic of this season,” she said.
Almost 30 children “boarded” the Polar Express Dec. 19 and were greeted by Santa and given a candy cane and a chance to tell him their wishes.
“I love Santa, and I can’t believe he was at my school,” said Grace Audette, 5.
“I love seeing the smiles on the children’s faces and being apart of their excitement,” said Bozek. “What a wonderful time of year to be a child and to believe.”
“At one time, most of my friends could hear the bell, but as years passed, it fell silent for all of them,” says Van Allsburg’s book. “Even Sarah found one Christmas that she could no longer hear its sweet sound. Though I’ve grown old, the bell still rings for me, as it does for all who truly believe.”