Review of The Magic School Bus Explores Human Evolution

The Magic School Bus Explores Human Evolution [Magic School Bus]
by Joanna Cole; illus. by Bruce Degen
Primary, Intermediate    Scholastic    56 pp.    g
4/21    978-0-590-10828-7    $17.99

Ms. Frizzle’s latest adventure (published posthumously for Cole, alas) takes her class, joined by newcomer Bo who’s visiting from China, back 3.5 billion years in Earth’s history, then forward through the path of human evolution. Before they board the bus, the students present their own family trees, bridging that familiar concept to “the family tree of the whole human race.” Then the antics begin, with the characters taking on the shapes of life forms of increasing complexity across the timeline, from single- and multi-celled organisms through fish, amphibians, reptiles, and primates. Extra time is spent on early and modern human species, including the development of culture and language. A helpful graphic appears every few pages to mark progress through geologic time. As always, the cheerful illustrations pack in entire subtexts: humorous speech-bubble dialogue among the classmates and numerous facts contained in reports and other visual asides. Additional explanations of the evidence for evolution and how natural selection works are appended.

From the March/April 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Danielle J. Ford
Danielle J. Ford
Danielle J. Ford is a Horn Book reviewer and an associate professor of Science Education at the University of Delaware.

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