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THE MAGIC SCHOOL BUS: OCEANS by Joanna Cole

THE MAGIC SCHOOL BUS: OCEANS

By Joanna Cole (Author) , Bruce Degen (Illustrator) , Scholastic Inc. (Developer)

Age Range: 4 - 10


Ms. Frizzle, the adventurous science teacher who takes her students on memorable field trips, makes the leap to the iPad in an app that feels as crowded and full of activity as the ocean floor. But its impressive amount of educational content (lots of facts, lots of photos, videos and games) and the story's off-hand, casual approach make it a successful intersection of learning and entertainment. Dialogue—even jokey speech bubbles and the boasts of a beach lifeguard—is all spoken out loud when tapped. As the bus turns into a submarine and Ms. Frizzle's eager (yet captive) students hit the water, the sea's inhabitants are presented in a series of projection-screen pages that pull down and offer short videos or photos with information about a species. For instance, "An adult flounder fish has both eyes on one side of its head!" There's also a matching game reminiscent of Tetris, a mini-microscope game and more interactive toys to play with. Unfortunately, it's not always clear how some of the games work or why some animals on a story page can be clicked on for more information but not others. For all its impressive material, it sometimes feels inconsistently designed and frustrating to actually use, especially for younger readers. The Frizz seems a natural for the medium, though, and this is a promising first adventure. (iPad informational app. 4-10)