The Magic School Bus
The Magic School Bus is a series of children's books intended to teach scientific concepts to children. They were written between 1986 and 2001 by Joanna Cole and illustrated by Bruce Degan. 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 an unnamed student in the Friz's class.
In 1994, the Magic School Bus concept was made into a television show of the same name by Scholastic Studios. Each episode runs about 30 minutes. The show originally aired on PBS in the United States, it being the first fully animated series to air on that network. The last episode was released in 1997, when the series was dropped to make room for more shows aimed at pre-schoolers. Fox Network now owns the series broadcast rights in North America, and there are no plans to make more episodes. The Magic School Bus is also shown on TLC Network and Discovery Kids. After the last Magic School Bus book was released, Cole and Degan started a new series called Ms. Frizzle's Adventures in 2001, 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 (voiced by Malcolm-Jamal Warner of The Cosby Show fame) receives phone calls from kids complaining about how some things that happened on the show couldn't happen in real life.
See List of The Magic School Bus episodes for a list of television episodes.
Major funding for the Magic School Bus television project has been provided by the National Science Foundation and Microsoft Home. Additional funding is provided by the United States Department of Energy and the Carnegie Corporation of New York and by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and by the annual financial support of Viewers Like You.
See Ms. Frizzle
Arnold Perlstein is a unique member of Ms. Frizzle's class. He is the only 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 reddish blond hair and wears round glasses. He is usually portrayed as something of wimp, especially since his catch-phrase is "I knew I should've stayed home today." Though he is often the butt of jokes in the series, he seems to be smarter and braver than he is given credit for.
Arnold has a know-it-all cousin named Janet (voiced by Renessa Blitz), who first appeared in the book The Magic School Bus Lost in the Solar System, and appears often in the television series, but not enough to be considered a regular. In The Magic School Bus Shows and Tells, Arnold mentions his great-aunt was the famous archeologist Arizona Joan (a play on Indiana Jones.)
Arnold is voiced by Danny Tamberelli.
Carlos Ramone 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, who appeared in two episodes of the television series.
Carlos is voiced by Daniel DeSanto.
Dorothy Ann (a.k.a. D.A.) is a bookworm, her most prized possession being her pink book bag. She uses her books to research whatever the matter at hand is. 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.
Dorothy Ann has blonde hair, which she wears set in pigtails. In The Magic School Bus Goes On Air, when she took the bands out, her pigtails stayed in place. In a close up of her in The Magic School Bus Plays Ball, we can see she had blue eyes.
Dorothy Ann is voiced by Tara Meyer.
Keesha Franklin is probably the most skeptical of the students and arguably the most level-headed as well. She appears to a close friend of Phoebe and is voiced by Erica Luttrell.
Phoebe Terese has brown hair and would well deserve the title of "the compassionate one." She's very concerned with the well-being of animals and started an organisation called S.A.D.S. (Students Against Desert Scarcity) to help animals living in the desert in The Magic School Bus All Dried Up.
Phoebe transferred to Walkerville Elementary, where Ms. Frizzle teaches, from her old school (which, oddly enough, is named Phoebe's Old School.) In The Magic School Bus Goes to Seed the class went to her old school to pick up a plant, but Phoebe was worried the Friz would embarrass her. However, it turned out her old teacher not only knew Ms. Frizzle, but was a close friend.
Phoebe is voied by Maia Filar.
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, who is voiced Tyne Daly) is a medical doctor.
Ralphie is voiced by Stuart Stone.
Wanda Li has black hair, wears a red vest and pink blouse. Wanda's mother (voiced by Rosalind Chao) is a science writer, who once kept an alligator in the bathtub. Wanda's little brother, William, is clearly no more than four, as he is still learning how to speak. Wanda is very interested in adventure and "going where no kid has gone before." Thus, she serves as something of a foil to Arnold.
Wanda is voiced by Lisa Yamanaka.
Tim can usually be found with a notebook used for drawing pictures. He has black hair, and he is the second African-American student in Ms. Frizzle's class. He is also very observant.
He is voiced by Andre Ottley-Lorant.
NOTE: Though only these eight students are featured in the television series, Ms. Frizzle's class was far larger in the original books which gives her a class of approximently fifteen students. Infact, Keesha wasn't added until she premiered in the TV series.
Liz is the very intelligent class lizard, and often rescues the children from sticky situations.