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20,000 Leaks Under the Sea
on October 14, 2003
At this point, Ms. Frizzle and her class have explored things like the waterworks, the many layers of the earth, the human body, and even outer space. So it's only natural that Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen would decide to lead their readers on an under-sea adventure. "The Magic School Bus: On the Ocean Floor" is another top-notch collaboration by two people who show no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
Written in 1992, "On the Ocean Floor" picks up where "Lost in the Solar System" left off. Ms. Frizzle's students are working on their ocean science projects, which makes their teacher very happy. However, it makes them hot and tired; the temperature on this day is soaring!
"I wish we could go swimming," comments one student while putting the finishing touches on a display about how ocean animals swim.
"As a matter of fact, children," says the Friz, "I've been planning a class trip to the ocean for tomorrow."
And, just like that, the class - as well as the reader at home - is being whisked away on yet another magical field trip. The kids think they're just going to spend a day having fun in the sun, but Ms. Frizzle has other ideas!
"On the Ocean Floor" rivals "Inside the Human Body" for the amount of information - not to mention good-natured humor - packed into one 48-page book. Just about everything you can imagine - and anything you can't - is touched on in this compelling romp through the heart of the ocean. At the end of Ms. Frizzle's latest underwater voyage, you will have a better understanding of what hidden treasures abound in the deep blue sea.
Ms. Frizzle's class learns all about ocean life; the kids come across things such as barnacles, grunts, limpets, sponges, sugar kelp, tubeworms, and whelks. More familiar entities include coral reefs, dolphins, lobsters, plankton, sharks, tunas, and whales. The students explore high tides, low tides, continental shelves, continental slopes, the ocean floor, hot-water vents, and waves. And I'm only bobbing the surface of what Ms. Frizzle has lined up for her class.
The end of the book leaves us with two things: 1) a little quiz distinguishing what things were true in the story and what things were made up; and 2) another clue as to what the Friz's next adventure will entail. From the looks of it, her idea of a field trip is so old, it's practically prehistoric!
As so often happens, it is common for the things we love in life to grow stale. Rarely does a book series get better with age. But Cole and Degen have managed to do just that. With each "Magic School Bus" story they produce, the product becomes more polished. I had never heard of even half the things this tale delves into, and I thoroughly enjoyed absorbing myself in the read. "On the Ocean Floor" is yet another high-quality effort from two people who wouldn't settle for anything less.
The fifth book in this wonderful series is definitely a keeper, as are the four volumes that precede it. Do yourself a favor, and take a ride on the magic school bus!
As Ms. Frizzle herself would say, "Wahoo!"