The Magic School Bus is a series of children's books about science, written by Joanna Cole and illustrated by Bruce Degen. They feature the antics of Ms. Valerie Frizzle and her class, who board an anthropomorphic Type A school bus which takes them on field trips to impossible locations, such as the solar system, clouds, the past, and the human body. The books are written in the first person from the point of view of an unnamed student in "the Friz's" class. The class pet Liz, a lizard, accompanies the class on their field trips.
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.
Craig Walker, vice-president and senior editorial director at Scholastic Co., stated that the concept began with the idea of combining science with fictional stories, and Joanna Cole (who had written both science and humor before) and Bruce Degen were then approached with creating such a series. Walker also states that his own memories of school field trips and of a teacher he had once, served as further inspiration.
The first book "At the Waterworks" was written in 1985 and published the following year.
Cole and Degen started a new series called Ms. Frizzle's Adventures in 2001, which teaches social studies. There are now three books in that series. Microsoft Home started publishing Magic School Bus software in 1994.
In the original books, Ms. Frizzle's class was larger, and consisted of Tim, Arnold, Ralph (changed to "Ralphie" on the show and later books in this series), Dorothy Ann, Wanda, Phoebe, John, Carmen, Gregory, Amanda-Jane, Florrie, Shirley, Michael, Phil, Molly, Rachel, Alex, Carlos, and Keesha. Phoebe was first introduced in the 1987 book, The Magic School Bus Inside the Earth, and Carlos and Keesha were added in the 1994 book, The Magic School Bus In the Time of Dinosaurs.
The homework assignments of all the students were seen in the books. In the TV series, these assignments were included in early episodes and were usually presented by Dorothy Ann.
GETS TO SHINE — Gets a Bright Idea & Makes a Rainbow
GOES ON A FIELD TRIP - In The Arctic & Goes Upstream
HABITATS AND DESERTS - Hops Home & All Dried Up
THE HUMAN BODY - Inside Ralphie & For Lunch
IN MOTION - Taking Flight & Flexes Its Muscles
IN THE AIR - Kicks Up a Storm & Gets Lost in Space
IN THE WATER - Ups and Downs & Wet All Over
LEARNS ABOUT MICROBES AND REPTILES - In A Pickle & Cold Feet
LEARNS ABOUT PLANTS AND FORESTS - Gets Planted & In The Rain Forest
LEARNS SOMETHING NEW - Cracks a Yolk & Gets Programmed
LEARNS TO BUILD - Under Construction & Shows and Tells
LIGHTS UP - Sees Stars & Gets Charged
PHYSICS - Plays Ball & In the Haunted House
TESTS THE WATERS - Goes to Mussel Beach & Takes a Dive
UNDER PRESSURE - Goes on Air & Gains Weight
SUPER STAR POWER - Gets Planted, Goes Cellular, Sees Stars & Taking Flight
TAKES A DRIVE - Goes to Mussel Beach, Gets Swamped, Takes a Dive & For Lunch
TAKES FLIGHT - Kicks Up a Storm, Taking Flight, Hops Home & Gets Swamped
HUMAN BODY - For Lunch, Inside Ralphie, Flexes Its Muscles & Gets Planted
BLAST OFF FROM SPACE TO SEA - Wet All Over, Ups and Downs, Rocks and Rolls, Gets Eaten, Meets the Rot Squad, Gets Ready, Set, Dough, Gets Lost in Space, Out of This World, Gains Weight, Goes Upstream, Butterfly and the Bog Beast & Plays Ball
FIELD TRIP FUN & GAMES - The Busasaurus, Cold Feet, Goes Upstream, Plays Ball, Shows & Tells, Works Out, Gets Ants in Its Pants, Butterfly and the Bog Beast, In a Beehive, Gets Eaten, Rocks and Rolls, Gains Weight
THE COMPLETE SERIES - All 52 episodes from the 4 season run