• Happy birthday Ann Rinaldi (A Break With Charity; The Secret of Sarah Revere), Suzy Kline (Horrible Harry series; Herbie Jones), Suzanne Fisher Staples (Shabanu; Under the Persimmon Tree), and Sarah Stewart (The Gardener, The Library).
  • It’s the birth date of Arlene Mosel (1921-1996), Tikki Tikki Tembo.
  • Charles Rolls (1877-1920), cofounder of Rolls-Royce, was also born on this day. Read Shapes That Roll by Karen Nagel, illustrated by Steve Wilson.
  • In 2003, the planet Mars made its closest approach to Earth in nearly sixty thousand years. Read Destination: Mars by Seymour Simon, and You Are the First Kid on Mars by Patrick O’Brien.
  • Apparently it’s Just Because Day. Why? Well…just because. Read Just Because by Rebecca Elliot.

Children around the country have either headed back to school or are about to do so. Much of the drama of these first days centers on the teacher: Who will he or she be? Will the teacher be nice or mean? Easy or hard?

The best I can wish for these children is that they might end up with the real life equivalent of my second-favorite fictional teacher: Ms. Frizzle. (My first favorite teacher remains Albus Dumbledore.) When Ms. Frizzle’s students arrive in class, they feel they have bad luck indeed. They have the strangest teacher in the school. Ms. Frizzle wears bizarre dresses and shoes with snakes and frogs on them and keeps a pet Iguana named Liz in the classroom. She makes her class conduct science experiments and read five science books a week. And while other classes get to go to the zoo, Ms. Frizzle plans to take her students to the waterworks, gathering facts about water before they do.

When it comes time to leave for the class trip, rather than a real bus driver, the Frizz herself sits at the wheel of a school bus that miraculously changes into an airplane! The children embark on an adventure that will teach them about science and water in a completely amazing way. Every page of this funny information book has been filled with facts about water, as well as banter between the children and Ms. Frizzle. When the students learn they will be studying volcanoes next week, they know to prepare for some pretty strange things.

In The Magic School Bus at the Waterworks, Joanna Cole’s text for ages four through eight is a perfect balance of understatement and irony, as Ms. Frizzle leads her students on one of the most exciting field trips of all times. Bruce Degen adds a great deal of humor and information in the drawings. From the first Magic School Bus book in 1986 to a television series based on the books, Ms. Frizzle has been leading students through all kinds of science trips—from exploring the solar system to going inside a beehive. All the Magic School Bus books demonstrate that science can be fun, exciting, and entertaining. And they also remind us that it might not be so bad to get the strangest teacher in school this year.

So, fasten your seat belt. You are going to love traveling with the Frizz, wherever she takes you.

Here’s a page from The Magic School Bus at the Waterworks:


Originally posted August 27, 2011. Updated for .

Tags: Adventure, School, Science
Instructional materials from TeachingBooks.net for The Magic School Bus at the Waterworks


  1. G.Perry says:

    Talk about late to the game! I never heard of this series until yesterday when I saw the book cover image Anita posted for the next day’s book. I managed to get hold of this book and loved it! I was amazed at what I learned about our water systems. I had no clue! It was wonderful.

    So, sensing an opportunity to learn something about hurricanes quickly, I got hold of the Magic School Bus Inside a Hurricane. I was amazed at some of the things I learned about hurricanes. I used to teach weather as part of pilot ground-school and there were things in The Magic School Bus Inside a Hurricane that I didn’t know about.

    The down side of these reviews Anita does is that I get so enthused, I go off and get hold of a stack of these things. I ordered all the books published from the author of This is Paris, and those are fantastic. Now I have all the books ordered from The Magic School Bus series, and it’s all making me feel like Ms. Brown in the book The Library, by Sarah Stewart. Books are stacked everywhere! (I also loved her books The Journey, and The Gardener.)

  2. Anita says:

    I’m sorry I don’t have the Magic School Bus Inside a Hurricane myself right now. It would be much better than CNN.

  3. Rebecca says:

    It’s funny you said that, Anita – inspired by today’s entry, my two boys (6 and 4) and I acted out our own Magic School Bus yesterday in honor of Irene. We made up a lot, but it was fun. Naturally, I was The Frizz (and I totally rocked it, wig and all). What books can inspire us to do on a rainy day… I love these books, both as a parent and as a teacher, and even the cartoon is terrific. Lily Tomlin is the PERFECT Ms Frizzle!

  4. Carly says:

    Hey, I totally love the Magic School Bus series too. One of my favorites is Inside the Earth.

    I recently came across another series on waste management, called Garbology Kids. The first book in the series is Where Do Recyclable Materials Go? You can check it out here: http://www.garbologykids.com

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