The Magic School Bus books fit smack bang into the STEM (Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) category that everyone is talking about. The best thing is that while they have an obvious Science emphasis they are still fun to read.
Scholastic have released sets called A Science Chapter Book and they are a great introduction to chapter books for children who are ready to take on more than a school reader. The print is large and the pages are broken up with drawings or diagrams.
The book we are looking at today is the first in this series, The Truth about Bats. Good timing for Halloween. Others (that I could find quickly) are The search for the Missing Bones, Space Explorers and The Giant Germ.
In each book one of the children in Ms Frizzle’s class is the narrator. Here the child is introducing the reader to her teacher.
‘Maybe you have heard of Ms. Frizzle? (Sometimes we just call her the Friz.) She is a terrific teacher – but strange. Her favourite subject is science, and she knows everything.’
Ms. Frizzle takes the class on lots of field trips in her Magic School Bus. The bus can fly, shrink, grow and transform into a bus-jet, bus-copter and bus-cabin to name a few changes.
The class know when they will be having one of Ms.Frizzle’s special lessons by what she is wearing. For example in this book she is wearing a dress with bats on it!
When you are reading it is obvious that the series is North American. However the facts shared by the teacher and her pupils are presented in fun ways throughout the book. For example, How are bats, whales and dolphins alike?
One of the students tells a story she has heard about bat’s flying into you hair. Ms. Frizzle says ‘Bats don’t accidentally fly into things phoebe,’ the Friz said. ‘They have built-in sonar that helps them get around – even in the dark.’
The facts are well balanced in amongst the simple story line. The children meet a Ranger who is looking for a rare bat. You will have to read the book to find out how it ends. Perhaps you might then watch it on Netflix!