9th August 2020

Science Magic School Bus author Joanna Cole dies at 75

Science Magic School Bus author Joanna Cole dies at 75

Science

science Joanna Cole with Bruce DegenImage copyright
Scholastic

Image caption

Joanna Cole and illustrator Bruce Degen produced the popular Magic School Bus books

Joanna Cole, writer of the award-winning Magic School Bus series which made science fun for generations of children, has died at the age of 75.

She had been living in Sioux City, Iowa, with her husband Phil, her publisher Scholastic said.

As well as the best-selling Magic School Bus series, Ms Cole also wrote some 250 other books for children.

Scholastic’s CEO Dick Robinson said Ms Cole “had the perfect touch for blending science and story”.

“Joanna’s books, packed with equal parts humour and information, made science both easy to understand and fun for the hundreds of millions of children around the world who read her books and watched the award-winning television series,” he added.

Joanna Cole began writing the Magic School Bus series in 1986, along with illustrator Bruce Degen. It featured a teacher, Ms Frizzle, who led her students on a series of adventures in the Magic School Bus – to places such as the human body, hurricanes and the solar system.

Together they went on to produce 13 books for the series, which led to some 93m print copies in 13 countries, Scholastic says.

Mr Degen said that “for Joanna the excitement was always in the idea. What? Why? How? And with The Magic School Bus it was how to explain it so that it is accurate and in a form that a kid can understand and use. And you can actually joke around while you are learning. She had a rare sense of what could be humorous.”

Ms Cole was already a published author when she was approached by Scholastic to write the Magic School Bus series; her first book for children was about cockroaches.

Tributes were paid to Ms Cole on social media by those who had grown up with her books, including actress Elizabeth Banks, who is set to play Ms Frizzle in a move-version of the series.

As well as her husband, Ms Cole leaves a daughter, two grandchildren and a sister.


Science Your memories of reading Joanna Cole’s books

I loved reading and watching the Magic School Bus stories with my two boys when they were young. One of our favourites was “Inside the Human Body”. Ms Frizzle was funny and curious. Another favourite was the “Solar System” book. What a great way to learn about science topics in a fun and humorous, yet factually accurate way. I feel a loss at her passing.

Joan Hennigan, Eldridge, Iowa


We lived in the US from 1990 until 1997. When our oldest son Jonathan woke in the morning (born 1989) I would pick him up and we would watch the children’s program on PBS. The Magic School Bus was his as well as my favourite show. He loved it so much that he became a member of “The Magic School Bus Club”. The show was excellent, funny, exciting, fresh and educative. Jonathan is 31 today and has a degree as mining engineer. We as parents like to think the show had something to do with that.

Eskil van Loosdrecht, Sweden


When I was a child I grew up with the magic school bus CD-rom for a computer and I played lots of the deep sea oceans series. That was fun and I loved playing the games. I send my love to the author’s family indeed and I thank the lady for all these greet series I played on my first computer at home with my mum and dad. I will never forget that day in my life.

Lucinda, Whitby, England

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