The Magic School Bus

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The Magic School Bus
The Magic School Bus title credit.jpg
Created byJoanna Cole and Bruce Degen
OwnerScholastic Corporation
Print publications
Book(s)The Magic School Bus book series (1986–2010)
Specific books include:
Films and television
Animated series
Video game(s)The Magic School Bus video game series (1994–2001)

The Magic School Bus is an American edutainment media franchise that includes a book series, a TV series, and video games. Each of the stories within the franchise centers on the antics of a fictional elementary school teacher, Ms. Frizzle, and her class, who board a "magic school bus", which takes them on field trips to unusual times and locations, such as the Cretaceous Period, outer space, and the interior of the human body.


The first media in which this franchise was developed was the Magic School Bus book series. Craig Walker, vice-president and senior editorial director at Scholastic Co., stated that the concept began with the idea of combining science with fictional stories, and Joanna Cole (who had written both science and humor before) and Bruce Degen were then approached with creating such a series. Walker also states that his own memories of school field trips and of a teacher he had once, served as further inspiration.[1] The first book "At the Waterworks" was written in 1985 and published the following year. The books are written in the first person from the point of view of an unnamed student in "the Friz's" class. Cole and Degen started a new series called Ms. Frizzle's Adventures in 2001, which teaches social studies, eventually producing three books in that series. Microsoft Home began publishing Magic School Bus software in 1994.

In 1994, The Magic School Bus concept was also made into an animated series of the same name by Scholastic Entertainment, and premiered on September 10, 1994. Scholastic Entertainment president Deborah Forte says that adapting the books into an animated series was an opportunity to help kids "learn about science in a fun way".[2] Around that time, Forte had been hearing concern from parents and teachers about how to improve science education for girls and minorities.[2] As noted by Marcel LaFollette, "accomplished women were exceptions in a universe of male luminaries" when it came to science television.[3]:185 Miss Valerie Frizzle, the magic school teacher, was the closest approximation to an expert female host.[4][3]:183, 185–195 She was voiced by Lily Tomlin in the series.[5]

Each episode of the series ran for 30 minutes. In the United States, the series originally aired on PBS as a part of its children's block, PTV (later renamed PBS Kids), through South Carolina's SCETV network; it was the first fully animated series to be aired on PBS. The last episode aired on December 6, 1997; the series then aired reruns on PBS until September 1998. The Fox network aired repeats from September 1998 to September 2002. Starting September 27, 2010, The Magic School Bus started a daily run on Qubo in the US, and on Saturday mornings on NBC through June 30th, 2012, when the Qubo block was replaced with the NBC Kids block.

From 1994 to 2000, several Magic School Bus video games were released. Most of the original titles were created by the software company Music Pen in collaboration with Microsoft and Scholastic Press, the publisher of the Magic School Bus book series. Though in the TV series, the bus was obviously animated in traditional 2D-cel, in the CD-ROM games, it is typically animated with computer generated imagery. In all these titles the user gets to "drive" the bus, which almost always involves clicking on the steering wheel and choosing a location. (The exception is The Magic School Bus Explores Inside the Earth where it is the gear shift instead of the steering wheel.) Most of the games have about seven different locations, including the classroom. There is always some goal for the user in each one.

Scholastic Entertainment, the American Meteorological Society and the Children's Museum of Houston created a Scholastics the Magic School Bus Kicks Up a Storm, a 2,600 sq ft (240 m2). traveling exhibit funded in part by the National Science Foundation, which premiered at the Children's Museum of Houston in 2003 (a copy of it opened in New Jersey the month after that).[6]

On September 29, 2017, Scholastic and Netflix released the reboot animated series The Magic School Bus Rides Again, with Kate McKinnon as the voice of Ms. Frizzle's sister, Fiona Felicity Frizzle, who is now in charge of the class. Lily Tomlin also reprises her role as Ms. Frizzle, now Professor Frizzle, Ph.D.


  1. ^ Lodge, Sally (27 July 2006). "Two Decades of Fun and Learning on the Magic School Bus". Publisher’s Weekly. Retrieved 3 October 2012.
  2. ^ a b Clarke, Melanie M. (20 June 2005). "A Scholastic Achievement". Broadcasting & Cable. Cahners Publishing Co./Reed Publishing (USA) Inc. 135 (25): 30.
  3. ^ a b LaFollette, Marcel Chotkowski (2013). "Rarae Aves: Television's Female Scientists". Science on American television : a history. Chicago, Ill.: University of Chicago Press. pp. 185–195. ISBN 978-0-226-92199-0.
  4. ^ Halpern, Paul (2015). "On the Air". Distillations. Chemical Heritage Foundation. 1 (2): 44. Retrieved 23 March 2018.
  5. ^ "Lily Tomlin". IMDb. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  6. ^ McCallum, Cheryl D.; L. Nazarani; The Children's Museum of Houston (4 January 2007). "Scholastics the Magic School Bus Kicks Up a Storm Museum Exhibit". American Meteorological Society. Retrieved 23 March 2009.

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