Ms. Frizzle and her magical bus have some competition.
Ball, the host of PBS’ Design Squad and Design Squad Nation, launches a new book series with this title. Nate himself, as a white, lab-coat–clad “daredevil scientist,” leads his team of investigators—Asian Wendy; white, glasses-wearing Felix; Braden, who is black and sports a sweater vest and bow tie; and Rosa, who has long, straight brown hair and light brown skin. The kids gather at the Science Museum on Saturday mornings an hour before opening, when all the doors turn into portals to other worlds. In order to return to the museum, the kids must answer the investigation questions on their exit tickets. In this outing, they shrink to the size of molecules, form a cloud, rain, flow from the river to the ocean, evaporate, form a snowflake, precipitate, and then soak down into the ground into an underground river. Along the way, readers are introduced to solid science vocabulary and concepts, most of which are explained in excerpts from Braden’s journal. The pencil-and–digital paint illustrations will whet readers’ appetites for their own adventures, though the depictions of molecules are unlikely to help kids understand them. Overall, it’s visually less cluttered than the Magic School Bus books; the characters still speak in dialogue bubbles, but there aren’t quite as many, and the flow of the conversation is easier to follow.
A solid start to a new science series. (Informational picture book. 5-10)