Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen, the author and illustrator of the Magic School Bus books, have collaborated for twenty years, bringing humor and true kidlike curiosity to science and learning. Booklist heralded Ms. Frizzle as "the wackiest, wisest teacher in picture books." Two MSB titles have been named School Library Journal Best Books of the Year, and they have won countless state book awards, from New York to Nebraska.
In her zany approach to science, Ms. Frizzle literally immerses her students in a sea of knowledge. Expecting a normal, end-of-the-year beach day, the class is shocked when ``the Friz'' drives the school bus through the parking lot, over the beach (with a quick lecture on the intertidal zone), and into the ocean depths. During this fanciful yet scientifically accurate romp, the bus appropriately metamorphoses into a submarine, a submersible, a glass-bottom boat, and--in a final flourish--a titanic surfboard. All the while, Ms. Frizzle's students (and Cole's readers) experience the wet wonders of potentially dry textbook subjects: where sand comes from, why oceans are salty, how fish breathe, the ``not-fish'' sea animals, underwater food chains, life in hot water vents and coral reefs. Weighty information is buoyantly supported by energetic, cartoony illustrations with bubbles of comical true-to-life kid-talk. Elementary readers will giggle at the side-story of Lenny, a lifeguard suffering delusions of heroism. Cole and Degen continue to hone their unique mix of humor, fact and sound teaching techniques. Like others in the series, this book will capture readers at school and at home. Ages 6-9. (Sept.)
K-Gr 4-- Miss Frizzle's class is doing a project on the ocean and learning about the kinds of animals and plants that live there. Of course, a class trip is in her plan book. Those familiar with the inimitable school bus and its previous fantastical journeys are in for another treat; those who are not are in for a wild introduction. With her usual dash and aplomb, the teacher gathers her students, they board the bus, and off they go on an adventuresome trip to the ocean floor. All listen as she informs them about the geologic strata they pass, the flora and fauna at the various depths, the unique interdependence of the undersea world, and in turn, how its survival depends upon humankind's actions on land. The engaging characterizations and use of informative cartoon bubbles continue to be a hallmark of this exuberant author/illustrator team. The vibrant text is well researched and accurate; it is presented with such humor and lightness that everyone will wish for a seat on that magic bus. A great way to escape a hot, stuffy school, and to embark on a cool adventure. --Mary Lou Budd, Milford South Elementary School, OH