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Rocks, Rocks, Everywhere!
on October 11, 2003
"The Magic School Bus: Inside the Earth" immediately picks up where its predecessor, "At the Waterworks", left off. At the end of each book, Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen provide a subtle clue as to the nature and content of their next collaboration - a sly wink to those of us who catch such details.
"At the Waterworks" concludes with Ms. Frizzle looking at a map of a volcano, which tells us the next book in the series will probably be about our world's physical structures. And that's where "Inside the Earth" steps into the spotlight. Written in 1987, Cole and Degen prove in their second effort that there is no such thing as the dreaded sophomore jinx. This story is just as, if not more, educating and entertaining than "At the Waterworks."
The book starts out with the kids in Ms. Frizzle's class appearing restless over their current learning topic, animal homes. They've been researching the subject for almost a month and "were pretty tired of it." So the class jumps for joy when the Friz announces they're starting something new. "We are going to study about our earth!" she exclaims.
However, things don't go exactly as planned. Only four kids actually bring their homework to class the next day - "Each person must find a rock and bring it to school," said Ms. Frizzle. So she decides to take them on a field trip to collect rock specimens . . . and that's when the fun begins!
Ms. Frizzle lives up to the expectations she set in "At the Waterworks." By the time this field trip is done, her class has learned all about the physical features of the earth. The kids discover how rocks are made of minerals. They delve deep into the ground, getting up close and personal with Earth's crust, mantle, outer core, and inner core. Ms. Frizzle educates them on the three classes of rocks - igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary. She relates to the kids how processes inside the earth take millions of years. She even takes them on a tour through a volcano! All throughout the field trip, the class receives hands-on experience with various rocks - basalt, granite, limestone, obsidian, pumice, sandstone, shale, etc.
And these details are only scratching the surface of what Cole and Degen, not to mention Ms. Frizzle, have lined up for readers in this book. Blending comedy with truth, this is a welcome addition to any children's bookshelf, either in the classroom or at home. And just as they did with their first story, Cole and Degen use the final pages to distinguish what things were accurate in the story and what things were made up.
As is her fashion, Ms. Frizzle leaves readers a hint at what is to come in her next adventure. My guess is that it has something to do with the human body. Talk about an inside-job!
Cole and Degen surpass the benchmark they set in "At the Waterworks" with "Inside the Earth." There are facts and figures, hilarity and humor, bursting from every page. Don't miss out on a chance to ride the magic school bus.
As Ms. Frizzle herself would say, "This way, class!"