The Hollywood Reporter has learned that Joanna Cole, author of The Magic School Bus series and more than 250 children’s books, has died with a cause of death unknown. The best-selling author began The Magic School Bus series in 1986 with illustrator Bruce Degen, surrounding Ms. Frizzle’s adventure filled science class, and their unusual field trips. The iconic series has won awards from the American Booksellers Association, the NEA Foundation and others, and sold more than 93 million copies in 13 countries.
“Joanna Cole had the perfect touch for blending science and story,” Scholastic chairman, president and CEO Dick Robinson said in a statement via The Hollywood Reporter. “Joanna’s books, packed with equal parts humor 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.”
The original animated adaptation for the series premiered in 1994 and was on the air for 18 more years following, starring Lily Tomlin (Nashville) as Ms. Frizzle. In 2017, The Magic School Bus: Rides Again Netflix series began, a spin-off plot with Kate McKinnon (Ghostbusters) as Ms. Frizzle’s sister Fiona Frizzle.
Many other Magic School Bus adaptations are underway, with a live-action film in development through Universal, and specials set to air in August. The Magic School Bus Explores Human Evolution, a project that Cole and Degen finished before her death, will publish next spring.