Rave Reviews by Jean E. Eustance                September 2020

Traditionally, September is the time for children to go back to school and to ride school buses. Let’s look at a few of The Magic School Bus books by Joanna Cole. Ms. Cole passed away this July at age 75.  Her wonderful books featured Ms. Frizzle, who taught elementary school science and took her class on field trips that never turned out the way you would expect.

These books are found in the picture book section of the Pine Bush Public Library. They are illustrated by Bruce Degan, who has drawn the kids and Ms. Frizzle just right.

The titles all start with The Magic School Bus and go on with At the Waterworks or Inside the Earth or On the Ocean Floor or Lost in the Solar System, among others. In the book The Magic School Bus Inside the Human Body, Arnold is still sitting at the picnic table, eating yellow cheesie-weesies and not paying attention when the rest of the class gets on the bus. The yellow bus shrinks, and lands among the cheesie-weesies.  Arnold accidentally swallows the school bus, whole. So it is Arnold who provides the body for Inside the Human Body.

The book I like the best is The Magic School Bus in the Time of the Dinosaurs. I wanted to be a dinosaur scientist when I was young. How I wish I could have gotten on that bus. Ms. Frizzle drives her class out to an American desert, and visits her friend Jeff who runs the dinosaur dig.

Jeff says “We found the bones of some maiasaura (duck-billed) dinosaurs.” His co-worker says, “We were hoping to find their nests.” Ms. Frizzle gets this look in her eyes, and loads the kids back on the bus. She drives them out of Jeff’s sight, and then pushes a button on the dashboard that turns the Magic School Bus into a time machine.  They stay in the same place but go back to the time of the dinosaurs. They zoom through the different eras, with different types of dinosaurs and evolving vegetation. They find the maisaura dinosaur mothers with their nests of eggs and hatchlings, and then the meat-eating dinosaurs attack! There is also a sand storm (which will bury the site, preserving it for the scientists.) Quick, everybody, get back on the bus!

Safely back home, Ms. Frizzle tells Jeff where to find the dinosaur nests. They get back to the school in time to set up for Visitors Day when the parents come to see what the class has been up to. John had brought along a video camera and filmed the whole thing. All the parents are impressed with the wonderful special effects.

Facts are included along the edge of the book’s pages, written up by the children on lined paper. “A word from Dorothy Ann.  Prehistoric  means anything that happened before people started writing history.”  Also, “No people ever saw a dinosaur by Florrie.  When early humans appeared on the earth, dinosaurs had already been dead for millions of years. People found out about dinosaurs from fossils.”

These are wonderful books, filled with fun and facts. Get them from the Children’s Department of the Pine Bush Area Public Library, and get on the bus!

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