American children’s book author Joanna Cole (August 11, 1944 – July 12, 2020) is best known for penning the bestselling Magic School Bus series, which has sold over 93 million copies worldwide across 13 languages. She penned over two hundred and fifty novels, such as the groundbreaking Cockroaches and the bestselling Magic School Bus series, illustrated by Bruce Degen.
Cole is the daughter of Elizabeth, a housewife, and Mario, a painter, and was born in Newark, New Jersey. She is an East Orange native. As a kid, she was particularly interested in science, and she had a teacher who, in her words, “acted a little like Ms. Frizzle,” despite the fact that the real Ms. Frizzle looked “quite traditional.” Cole claims, “I assumed that reading scientific books for enjoyment was a common thing” since her instructor allowed pupils borrow one of her science books every week. She used to spend hours in her backyard as a kid looking at plants and bugs. Cole was a good student who relished the opportunity to write science reports for his classes. Cole enjoyed watching insects in her backyard, so her aunt sent her a book titled Bugs, Insects, and Such as a gift.
She wed Philip A. Cole in 1965.
She received her BA in psychology from City College of New York in 1967 after studying for a while at the University of Massachusetts and Indiana University.
She completed her master’s degree in teaching and then found work as an elementary school librarian in Brooklyn. Later on, Cole worked as a senior editor for Doubleday Books for Young Readers, an associate editor for Scholastic’s SeeSaw book club, and as a letters reporter for Newsweek. In 1980, she began working as a freelance writer, penning pieces for Parents magazine and children’s books. The Cockroach Book was her debut children’s book, released in 1971. Cockroaches was written by Cole because, at the time, no other book existed on the topic. In 1980, she made the decision to focus only on writing children’s books. How You Were Born (1984) and Your New Potty (1996) are two of her books that parents may read to their children (1989). Cole wrote her children’s stories with consideration for the maturity of her target audience’s emotions. She feels lucky to be able to make a living doing what she loved as a kid.
In 1985, author David Wiesner penned the first Magic School Bus novel, which debuted in 1986. To create the first ten books, she and illustrator Bruce Degen averaged more than a year each book. When asked about his apprehension in beginning the first Magic School Bus book, Cole said, “There was no way I could get anything done. To avoid having to sit down and write, I organized closets, responded to mails, and went shopping. But I overcame my fear and did it nonetheless “. She said that she hoped to compose science fiction works with plots that would appeal to readers despite the absence of any scientific content.
Cole would compose the story for a Magic School Bus book before revising it with Degen. She also covered up some of the words with new ones written on removable tape. She reasoned that if she didn’t like what she had written, she could end up like what was on the cassette.
Millions of copies of The Magic School Bus have been sold, and it has been translated into dozens of languages.
The Magic School Bus: Exploring Human Evolution is the newest book in the popular series (2020). Cole’s favorite book from the series is Inside the Earth, in which the main character, Arnold, brings a piece of Styrofoam with dirt on it to school thinking it is a rock.
The books were made into an animated TV series with Lily Tomlin (as “Ms. Frizzle”) providing the voiceover from 1994 to 1997. The Magic School Bus: Rides Again is a 2017 Netflix series based on the novels. Kate McKinnon lends her voice to the character of Fiona Felicity Frizzle.
From 1994 till 2010, the video game series was released on a wide variety of hardware systems.
Cole, who had lived to the ripe old age of 75, passed away on July 12, 2020, from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. “Losing Joanna, we lose the possibility to share Ms. Frizzle’s next science adventure with children, making them laugh and helping them better comprehend the world they live in,” Stephanie Calmenson said in a tribute to the late author. Cole continued to create children’s books until the day she passed away. She wrote on a wide variety of topics for readers of all ages, and often worked in tandem with Calmenson.
Tribute episodes “Kids in Space,” “The Frizz Connection,” and “In the Zone” from the upcoming 2020 season of The Magic School Bus Rides Again were all written in her honor.
Conclusion paragraph: Joanna Cole will be remembered as a children’s book author who encouraged kids to learn about science in a fun and engaging way. Her Magic School Bus series is beloved by many, and her work has been translated into thirteen languages. If you have young ones, it’s likely you’ve read at least one of her books. My personal favorite is The Magic School Bus Inside the Earth. Have you introduced your kids to Ms. Frizzle? Let me know what they think.