The updated Magic School Bus Rides Again TV series tempts newly independent readers and science lovers with an early chapter book about fish adaptations.
Those familiar with the original cartoon will notice some differences in the cast and their appearances in the illustrations (done by 9story): Phoebe is gone, replaced by Jyoti, who appears to be Indian, and Wanda's features are less stereotypically East Asian, though she still has olive skin and black hair. All of the kids appear slightly older and more sophisticated than their counterparts from the previous series. But the biggest change is their teacher, Ms. Frizzle’s younger sister, Fiona Frizzle, who is young, thin, white, and wears her wavy hair down but still has clothing that matches the theme (though it isn’t as outlandish as her sister’s) and abides by the same motto: “Take chances, make mistakes, and get messy.” The kids do all of that and more on a midwinter trip to Hawaii. While everyone else wants to relax, Wanda wants to help/save some species, and while snorkeling, she spies just the one: a bluestripe snapper that is alone and seems vulnerable. Individual fish-shaped submarines, courtesy of the bus, allow the students to explore how fish use their fins, swim bladders, and lateral lines to swim and survive both individually and as a school, and the classmates use their newfound knowledge to save Wanda from a threatening shark. Backmatter includes a glossary and the usual end-of-episode questions that sort fact from fiction. Finished illustrations not seen.
Ride on, Magic School Bus! (Informational fiction. 5-8)