The Magic School Bus and the Science Fair Expedition is the book celebrating twenty years of the Magic School Bus. Author Joanna Cole and illustrator Bruce Degan created these characters twenty years ago. For the twentieth anniversary they wanted to go back to scientists and the scientific method. In this book the quirkily lovable Ms. Frizzle takes her class on a fieldtrip on foot to the local science museum to help them get ideas for the Science Fair. What, no school bus? The students thought that this might be a normal field trip, but don't worry, there's a cardboard bus in the musuem, and in that bus, the students visit many scientists including Galileo, Isaac Newton, Antoni Van Leeuwenhoek, Louis Pasteur, and more. The wonderful thing about this picture book series is that each page is full of information in the form of text on the page, sidebars which are from journals created by one of the students, an additional story about one of the scientists, and also funny bubble cartoons from the students and Ms. Frizzle. This makes these books great to re-read time and again.
Recently, illustrator Bruce Degan came to our town library and did a talk with the kids. It was really wonderful to hear his explanation of the months of research that went into this book. He and the author work together once she has compiled all the research so that the information flows from page to page and scene to scene. I was also interested to learn that once the public television show began (now seen on Discovery and Discovery Kids), many new smaller format books and chapter books were written to support the industry of television. These books are overseen by Degan and Cole, but not as extensively researched as the orginal ten, which are larger format hardcover books (except for the new social studies series that they do write, which are large format paperbacks).
My daughter began loving the show as a young preschooler, which surprised me because I thought it would be over her head. It should be no surprise to me now that 2 1/2 year old Kyle loves to watch these shows with his sister as well. Because of this, and the fact that they are picture books, I hope that they don't miss their audience. I would recommend this book as a read-aloud from first grade on up, and my third grader has not been able to put down this book and the book on Egypt that we bought (and had signed from Bruce Degan).
One fun thing he did with the kids after his talk was to have them think of an imaginary dinosaur and he would draw it. Amanda was called on and got to share her idea: the Broccolisaurus. In a jiffy, he drew a brontosaurus type dino, with broccoli florets along his ridge as scales, and one one his tail. It was a lot of fun for the kids, and Amanda was especially delighted to get to take hers home.