Home > News & Advice > News Obituaries > Joanna Cole (1944–2020), “The Magic School Bus” author

Joanna Cole (1944–2020), “The Magic School Bus” author

by Linnea Crowther

Joanna Cole was a children’s author best known for her “The Magic School Bus” series.

Making science fun

Cole published the first book in her Magic School Bus series, “At the Waterworks,” in 1986. Her words, along with illustrator Bruce Degen’s pictures, brought science to children in a fun and appealing way. Many more magic School Bus books followed, and each book had students taking a fantastical field trip with their teacher. “The Magic School Bus” was adapted into an animated television series that ran for four seasons into the 1990s and starred Lily Tomlin as wacky teacher Ms. Frizzle, as well as a 2017 Netflix adaptation starring Kate McKinnon, “The Magic School Bus Rides Again.” Cole wrote many other books for children, including “Bony-Legs,” “Best Loved Folktales of the World,” and “How You Were Born.” Her most recent Magic School Bus book, “The Magic School Bus Explores Human Evolution,” is scheduled to be published in 2021.

Cole on writing for children

“I do have fun writing the jokes, although I must say that probably reading the jokes is more fun than writing them. You know, people often say, ‘That must be so much fun to be a children’s book writer,’ because it looks like fun when you read the book. But it takes me six months to a year to write one of those books and it’s hard work. And sometimes it’s frustrating when things don’t go right. So, there can be some sad moments.” —from an interview with Reading Rockets


What people said about her

Full obituary: The Los Angeles Times

More Stories