After two and a half decades, Scholastic's book library of The Magic School Bus totals in the hundreds. Everyone likes a field trip; and in each and every installment, Ms. Frizzle takes her class aboard the bus and ventures to all sorts of places in order to further elucidate a lesson plan. The animated series, produced by Scholastic Media with support from the National Science Foundation, performed with much of the same curriculum mandate. Muscle oxygenation? Animal and plant life in the desert? The chemistry of baking a cake? The inner workings of an ant hill? Viewers learned about all of these and more as Ms. Frizzle's bus shrunk down to microscopic size and traveled to lands far away.
For children of the mid 1990s, The Magic School Bus ensured that there was never a dull moment in the world of science; where trips to the science fair and dinosaur digs turned into hearty lessons on teamwork, patience, and good health.
The Magic School Bus: The Complete Series is notable particularly for including thirty episodes that have never before been available on home video.
The eight-disc release will include its fair share of quizzes, teasers, experiments, and interactive parent/teacher guides as bonus features. The DVD set will include new character art as well. How do airplanes fly? Why do reptiles have "cold blood"? What's the freezing arctic got to do with heat? The sprightly and eccentric Ms. Frizzle and her magical school bus have the answers.
Craig Walker, an executive editor with Scholastic who created the property back in 1986, recalls with affection, "In the 1980s, during the great era for picture book sales, we kept getting requests from teachers who were interested in seeing more books in the science category. So we had the breakthrough idea of putting curriculum science inside a story."
Walker, originally commenting to a writer for Publisher's Weekly many years ago, continued: "I remembered as a child loving to go on field trips. So I thought about doing books about kids going on field trips to places they really couldn't: through a water system, to the bottom of the ocean, inside the earth. And I remembered an eccentric second-grade teacher in my school who everyone thought was the best...."
The success of The Magic School Bus can certainly be measured in the tens of millions of books sold, packed full of knowledge and fun by Joanna Cole (writer) and Bruce Degen (illustrator), as well as national education and national parenting awards. However, the print and animated content's adoption at the hands of teachers no doubt played the largest part in the property's enduring recognition. Placing non-fiction into a fiction adventure tale where a cast of spirited and diverse kids get a hands-on learning opportunity is one thing, but the presence of mind of eager elementary school teachers has always been the largest piece of the puzzle.