The American writer of more than 250 books, however best known for The Magic School Bus series, Joanna Cole, has passed away on July 12, 2020 at the age of 75. Her beloved series, illustrated by Bruce Degen since its creation, was what the author was most famous for, having sold 93 million copies.
Having started in 1985, the first book in the series, The Magic School Bus at the Waterworks, was published the following year, but Cole was hesitant when it came to writing the book. The author stated "I couldn’t work at all. I cleaned out closets, answered letters, and went shopping - anything but sit down and write. But eventually I did it, even though I was scared."
Although she had been writing before then, penning her first book titled Cockroaches in 1971, Cole had always been fascinated with science, nature, insects, and plants ever since she was a child. She believed reading books about science was something all kids did for fun. Having previously worked as a librarian, and holding several editor positions, it wasn’t until 198 that she dedicated her full attention to writing children’s books.
Five years later, she would be approached by a senior editorial director at Scholastic who was on the hunt for books about science for teachers, which would combine storytelling with science. With that in mind, Cole created the quirky Ms. Frizzle, who was always ready for a field trip adventure with her students that would have them exploring everything from outer space to inside the body.
The first book in the series was published in 1986 and 12 additional installments would be added to the original series before then branching out into other areas including chapter books, reader level series, TV tie-in books,and more than 30 DVDs and VHS cassettes.
Before her passing, Cole and Degen completed their latest collaboration titled The Magic School Bus Explores Human Evolution, which is set to be released in the spring. Feel free to visit your Abilene Public Library and checkout some of her classic books and share with your children. Having been around for well over 45 years, they resonate with youth today as they did when they were first released Not only do we carry many of her books, but also have some of the animated shows available on DVD too.