Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

The Magic School Bus

The Magic School Bus is a series of books intended to teach scientific concepts to children. They were written between 1986 and 1999 by Joanna Cole and illustrated by Bruce Degen. The books feature the exploits of Ms. Frizzle and her class of students at Walkerville Elementary who board a magical school bus which takes them on educational adventures to space, under the Earth, into the human body, or to other such locations. The books were written in the first person from the point of view of a student in the Friz's class. In 1994, they were also made into a television show of the same name by Scholastic Productions, and Microsoft started releasing Magic School Bus software in the same year. Each episode runs about 30 minutes.

The show originally aired on PBS in the United States, but was dropped to make room for more shows aimed at pre-schoolers. The Magic School Bus was the first fully animated series to air on PBS. Fox Network now owns the series broadcast rights in the US and there are no plans to make more episodes. The Magic School Bus is also shown on TLC Network and Discovery Kids. The last episode was released in 1997. After the last Magic School Bus book was released, Cole and Degen started in 2001 a new series called Ms. Frizzle's Adventures which teaches social studies. There are now two books in that series.

Since the Magic School Bus books present scientific facts in the form of stories in which fantastic things happen (for example, a bus turns into a spaceship, or children shrink to the size of blood cells), each book has a page at the end detailing in a humorous manner which parts of the book represented scientific fact and which were fanciful storytelling. In the TV show, this was replaced by a short scene at the end of each episode in which the producer of the show receives phone calls from kids complaining about how some things that happened on the show couldn't happen in real life.

Voice actors on the show included Lily Tomlin as Ms. Frizzle and Malcolm Jamal-Warner as the producer.

See list of Magic School Bus books, episodes, and software for specific information about entries in the series.


Ms. Frizzle

Valerie Felicity Frizzle is a teacher at Walkerville Elementary. She is normally referred to as Ms. Frizzle but her students sometimes call her "the Friz." She has bright red hair and wacky clothes and is usually described as being weird. Her clothing matches the subject of each adventure. In the original books, Ms. Frizzle's dress at the end gave a clue as to what the next book was about. In the last book, her dress at the end is covered with question marks.

"Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!" is Ms. Frizzle's favourite saying. She encourages her kids to learn and love science. She has succeeded with all of them except for Arnold.

Ms. Frizzle has a pet lizard named Liz that serves as a teaching assistant for her. Ms. Frizzle lives in Walkerville in a house which has many Jetson-like inventions and runs on batteries.

Ms. Frizzle seems to have a never-ending supply of distant relatives who used to say something unusual -- for example, "As my Aunt Minerva used to say, 'there's nothing more marvelous than mud.'"


Arnold Perlstein is the most unique member of Ms. Frizzle's class, because he is the sole student who does not enjoy her magical field trips and would rather go on a normal trip.

He is interested in rocks and geology. When he lost some rocks from his collection in the CD-ROM The Magic School Bus Explores Inside the Earth, the class went on a field trip to recover them. He was excited, until he found out that they would encounter volcanoes and other dangers. Arnold knew enough about rocks to be the first kid to become a member of Granite in The Magic School Bus Goes Cell-Ular. Arnold has red hair and wears round glasses. Arnold has a know-it-all cousin named Janet, who first appeared in the book The Magic School Bus Lost in the Solar System, and appears often in the televison series.


Carlos Ramon is known for telling jokes. He has made many odd inventions, like an instrument and a rain-catcher. Carlos doesn't get along with Dorothy Ann. Carlos has a little brother named Mikey.

Dorothy Ann

Dorothy Ann (aka D.A.) is a bookworm, her most prized possession being her book bag. In The Magic School Bus Sees Stars, she celebrated her ninth birthday. D.A. enjoys star gazing and has a telescope outside her bedroom window. She has a little sister.


Keesha Franklin is probably the most sceptical of the students.


Phoebe Terez has brown hair and is mostly concerned with the well-being of animals. She transferred to Walkerville Elementary, where Ms. Frizzle teaches, from her old school (which, oddly enough, is named Phoebe's Old School.)


Ralphie Tenelli is interested mainly in sports. He frequently daydreams in Ms. Frizzle's class, where daydreams aren't a waste of time. Ralphie's mother (Dr. Tenelli) is a medical doctor.


Wanda Li has black hair, wears a pink vest, and is very interested in adventure and "going where no kid has gone before." Wanda's mother is a science writer; her little brother is named William.


Timothy ("Tim") can usually be found with a notebook used for drawing pictures.


Liz is Ms. Frizzle's pet lizard. There is no known lizard like her in the real world, as Liz can do advanced tasks such as driving the magic bus. In original books she didn't appear to be much more than an ordinary lizard, but the cartoon series changed that. In Microsoft's Magic School Bus software, she speaks and serves as a help button.

External Link