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The Magic School Bus

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The Magic School Bus
Created byJoanna Cole and Bruce Degen
OwnerScholastic Corporation
Print publications
Book(s)The Magic School Bus book series (1986–2021)
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 which includes a book series, a TV series, a streaming series, and video games. Each of the stories within the franchise focuses on the antics of a fictional elementary school teacher, Ms. Valerie Frizzle, and her class (with Carlos, Keesha, Phoebe, Arnold, Tim, etc.) 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 inside a human body.[1]



The first medium 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 the late Joanna Cole (who had written both science and humor before) and Bruce Degen were then approached with creating such a series. Walker also explains that his own memories of school field trips and of a teacher he had once, served as further inspiration.[2] The first book, The Magic School Bus at the Waterworks, was published in 1986.[3][4]

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, the same year The Magic School Bus concept was also adapted into an animated television series of the same name by Scholastic Entertainment along Canadian animation studio. The series premiered on PBS in September 10, 1994, with its theme song performed by musician Little Richard. 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".[5] Around that time, Forte had been hearing concern from parents and teachers about how to improve science education for girls and minorities.[5] As noted by Marcel LaFollette, "accomplished women were exceptions in a universe of male luminaries" when it came to science television.[6]: 185  Ms. Valerie Frizzle, the magic school teacher, was the closest approximation to an expert female host.[7][6]: 183, 185–195  She was voiced by Lily Tomlin in the series.[8] The series was followed by another animated series, The Magic School Bus Rides Again, which premiered on Netflix in 2017.[9]

Scholastic Entertainment, the American Meteorological Society and Texan Children's Museum of Houston created a Scholastic's 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).[10]


  1. ^ Erickson, Hal (2005). Television Cartoon Shows: An Illustrated Encyclopedia, 1949 Through 2003 (2nd ed.). McFarland & Co. pp. 714–715. ISBN 978-1476665993.
  2. ^ Lodge, Sally (July 27, 2006). "Two Decades of Fun and Learning on the Magic School Bus". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved October 3, 2012.
  3. ^ Mancini, Mark (July 16, 2020). "12 Magical Facts about The Magic School Bus". Mental Floss. Minute Media. Retrieved January 7, 2022.
  4. ^ Terrill, Marshall (July 23, 2020). "Ms. Frizzle Creator Leaves Behind a Legacy of Learning". News.ASU.edu. Arizona State University. Retrieved January 7, 2022.
  5. ^ a b Clarke, Melanie M. (June 20, 2005). "A Scholastic Achievement". Broadcasting & Cable. 135 (25). Cahners Publishing Co. and Reed Publishing (USA) Inc.: 30.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ Halpern, Paul (2015). "On the Air". Distillations. 1 (2). Chemical Heritage Foundation: 44. Retrieved March 23, 2018.
  8. ^ "Lily Tomlin". IMDb. Retrieved April 25, 2018.
  9. ^ The Magic School Bus Rides Again (Animation, Adventure, Family), Gabby Clarke, Birva Pandya, Kate McKinnon, 9 Story Media Group, Netflix, Scholastic Entertainment, September 29, 2017, retrieved July 5, 2024{{citation}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  10. ^ McCallum, Cheryl D.; Nazarani, L.; The Children's Museum of Houston (January 4, 2007). "Scholastics the Magic School Bus Kicks Up a Storm Museum Exhibit". ams.confex.com. American Meteorological Society. Retrieved March 23, 2009.