The Magic School Bus books were first published in 1986. By that time I was a teen-ager with my first summer job and my first unrequited crush on a girl. I wouldn’t notice the eccentric teacher Ms. Frizzle until PBS began airing a cartoon version of it in the 90s. Even then, it wasn’t something that caught my attention. I recall channel surfing and noticing a School bus shrinking down to the size of a Bumble Bee. I noticed a crazed, red-haired teacher driving the bus and I thought, “That’s a neat idea.” then I changed the channel.
However, once my wife and I decided to homeschool our children, I began to fall in love with Ms. Frizzle and her Magic School Bus. I even grew attached to that weird lizard of hers. Here’s why I love the books so much:
- Ms. Frizzle is filled with imagination. Instead of just talking about volcanos, she makes her class jump into hot lava (protected by the Magic Bus, of course). The kids become insects, water droplets, eletrical charges. It’s a fun way to learn about science!
- The Students have unique personalities. Ms. Frizzle’s students react differently to her lessons. Some kids take notes, some kids make jokes. Arnold is always the shy one who is reluctant to try new things. The diversity of personalities makes it a sure bet that your child will connect with at least one of the kids.
- Multi-tasking pages. Each page in a Magic School Bus book offers a multitude of different texts. There’s the basic storybook aspect — a narrative about the school day and the students’ adventure. Then, there are word bubbles, dialogue directly from the characters that entertain and educate. Finally, there are the student essays that can be found on the sidelines — these show the learning process of the kid characters. They write brief essays about their discovery.
- Field Trips: Ms. Frizzle is an educator after my own heart. She wants to get those kids out of the classroom as much as possible!
- Ms. Frizzle’s philosophy: “Take Chances, Get Messy, Make Mistakes!”
What a great lady! The books are created by Joanna Cole. The most recent one was published in 2006 — and I’m hoping they just keep on making them!