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Ancient Egypt

by Joanna Cole & illustrated by Bruce Degen

Age Range: 7 - 10

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-590-44680-0
Publisher: Scholastic

Extraordinary science teacher Ms. Frizzle is back sans school bus in a nine-by-twelve format tackling a whole new subject area: social studies. Ms. Frizzle is vacationing in Egypt and travels back to ancient times. Cole (The Magic School Bus and the Electric Field Trip, 1997, etc.) continues the characteristic mix of fact and fantasy. Pages are packed with images of people, animals, architecture—and facts, facts, facts. Dress, writing, food, housing, social classes are all simply explained. “Ancient Egyptians wrote on paper made from papyrus, a large water plant. The paper was called papyrus, too.” Ms. Frizzle’s linear commentary is boxed on a white background, as rich additional material—comments, jokes, and data—are strewn about in cartoon speech balloons, postcards, diary entries, and sidebars. Ms. Frizzle’s attire continues to surprise and delight, from her airplane dress covered with images of flight to her Ancient Egypt costume crawling with scarabs. Degen presents a bolder palate of deep greens, brick browns, reds, and blues, using pen and ink, watercolor, color pencil, and gouache for the comical detailed paintings. An Egyptologist who lectures at the Metropolitan Museum of Art vetted Cole’s facts. The last page speaks directly to the fantasy elements of the story explaining what really can’t happen. Quite a trip. (Picture book. 7-10)