|Hero Boy's House|
|Location||Grand Rapids, Michigan|
|Inhabitants||Hero Boy, Sarah, Hero Boy's Parents|
At the Beginning
At the start of the story, Hero Boy is sleeping quietly in his bed on Christmas Eve. He suddenly wakes up after hearing some bells and thinks they might be from Santa's sleigh. He looks out his window to find nothing, but hears the bells again coming from outside the door to his room, so he goes downstairs to investigate. He sees no presents under the tree and that the cookies and milk have not been eaten, but he also sees the shadow of what appears to be Santa. It turns out to be his father taking Sarah up to bed, so he rushes back to his room before they see him. From his room, he watches his mother and father tuck Sarah into bed. Sarah tells them about some things a friend told her regarding Santa not existing, but they assure her that he was joking and tell her Santa will only come if she stays asleep.
Afterwards, Hero Boy takes out a a picture of himself at Herpolsheimer's, sitting the lap of a department store Santa and pulling his fake beard and a piece of newspaper with a story about department store Santas going on strike and a "The Discovery" magazine. He then looks in an encyclopedia, which says that the North Pole is "Devoid of Life," before going to bed again.
Hero Boy suddenly wakes up again to find his room shaking. He hears the sound of a train and sees flashing lights pass by outside his window, so he puts on his slippers and robe and goes outside to investigate, ripping one of the pockets in his robe. Outside, he finds an entire passenger train stopped right in front of his house. Then, a Conductor steps outside one of the passenger cars. Hero Boy walks up to him, who explains that the train, called the Polar Express, is going to the North Pole and that Hero Boy has recently been showing signs of disbelief in Santa. Hero Boy turns the trip down, but immediately changes his mind and jumps onto the train just as it leaves.
At the End
The Polar Express stops in front of Hero Boy's house again for the return trip. Hero Boy says goodbye to Hero Girl and Know-It-All, who feel sorry for him losing the silver bell he got from Santa at the North Pole, before going home. Just as the train leaves, Hero Boy waves goodbye to the Conductor from his house, who shouts, "Merry Christmas!" The Hobo, who was on top of the train, waves goodbye too before vanishing again. On the way back to his room, he finds that Santa has not arrived yet.
The next morning, Sarah excitedly wakes up Hero Boy, telling him that Santa has been to their house. After he wakes up, she goes to wake up her parents. Later, Hero Boy and Sarah are downstairs opening their presents. Sarah finds one small present behind the tree, which has Hero Boy's name on it. Hero Boy opens it to find the silver bell he lost, along with a note informing him that the bell landed on the floor in Santa's sleigh. Hero Boy and Sarah ring the bell and enjoy its sound. However, when their mother rings it, she cannot hear the sound due to not believing in Santa. Their father rings it too, but he cannot hear the sound either. He thinks the reason why is because it is broken. The two children are later called by their mother, so Hero Boy puts the bell on the table before going.
|Grand Rapids, Michigan||Grand Rapids, Michigan • Hero Boy's House • Herpolsheimer's • 11344 Edbrooke Avenue|
|Journey to the North Pole||Flat Top Tunnel • Glacier Gulch • Ice Lake|
|North Pole||North Pole • North Pole Square • Communications Room • Wrapping Room|