The Magic School Bus: Inside a Hurricane

By Joanna Cole

“Seatbelts, kids!”

I have always loved The Magic School Bus. And, odd as this will sound, I don’t recall catching the t.v. show very often. No, what I got hooked on were the books and the video games. I wish those games still worked, but they’re from 1995-98-ish era, so most PCs won’t run anything that old. But man were they ever fun for my sister and I to play!

But my first Magic School Bus love was always the books. I would go to the library, scoop up as many as I could, and read them for hours. I think kids have the best educational books, and the Magic School Bus ranks up there with the best of them. Inside a Hurricane is just what it sounds like: Ms. Frizzle takes her class into the science and terror of extreme weather.

Now, The Magic School Bus will never be known for stellar writing. The story is told in a journal-entry type of way, detailing what the class is doing. Meanwhile, the dialogue is told through speech bubbles, and extra science is offered through student reports that are set to the side. Not to mention the details in the art! That’s a lot going on in just a few pages.

While there is a lot going on, it’s not overwhelming. Everything is written simply, with diagrams to help transmit the information. The science is balanced by the humour of the character interactions, which helps the books from being dry and gives them their traditional feel.

We need more books like this; little science books designed for kids that offers some laughs. I don’t mean Eyewitness books (though I love those too), but books that are designed to make them want to keep reading. The Magic School Bus did that for me, kicking off an obsession with the solar system that lasted for a year or two. Thank you, Ms. Frizzle and the Magic School Bus!

Suggested Ages: 6-9


Nadia’s Hands

K. English

Nadia’s Hands tells the story of a Pakistani-American girl and her Auntie Laila’s wedding. Auntie Laila is having a traditional Pakistani wedding, and Nadia will be the flower girl. Already worried that she won’t be good enough as a flower girl, another Auntie puts mehndi (henna) on her hands the day of the wedding. For a long time she has to sit very still, and has a lot of time for self-reflection and worry as various family members come by and remark on her hands. But Nadia doesn’t like her hands – with the mehndi, she doesn’t think they look like her hands at all.

This is a small coming-of-age story, as well as a story of acceptance of heritage. Nadia’s story is a story targeted as an old childrens audience, around 8-10, where they will still appreciate and enjoy the story, but also grasp the meaning and not be put off by the large amounts of text. The artwork is not as fine as some of the others, such as Stellaluna, but it has its own unique style and helps they story move from beginning to end.

Suggested Ages: 5-9

English, K. (1999). Nadia’s Hands. Boyds Mills Press.


The Canada Geese Quilt

By Natalie Kinsey-Warnock

The Canada Geese Quilt is a young readers novel about 10-year-old Ariel. She lives on a farm with her mother, father, and grandmother, sketching the wildlife around her house. Then her mother announces that she’s pregnant, and Ariel’s life turns upside down. Will her family forget her, or not love her, with the new baby? Only her grandmother is her rock, giving her advice and listening to her fears.

Designed for young readers who are making their first foray into chapter books. Children on the cusp (or just past) the double digits will empathize with the main character. Most children will understand the fear of a new brother or sister, as well as the fear of losing a beloved family member. The main focus of this book is not the story, but the revelation of feelings that are new and strange to the reader that they will face along with Ariel.

Suggested Age: 6-9

Kinsey-Warnock, N. (1992). The Canada Geese Quilt. Random House. More

What Do People Do All Day?

By Richard Scarry
Less of a storybook and more of a casual, introductory view of what, exactly, do people do all day? WDPDAD (What Do People Do All Day?) is a fabulous book full of details that will keep any child entertained as they learn the words associated with everything, from specific buildings to tools to people.

WDPDAD does not shy away from giving in-depth details either: in the chapter of building a house, Richard Scary shows us exactly what goes into building a house, including the sewer pipes. It teaches children what the keystone of a bridge is, and how people ride on a train. For the inquisitive young mind, What Do People Do All Day is one of the best books you could ever find.

Suggested ages: 3-5

Scarry, R. (1968). What Do People Do All Day? (Abridged). Random House.


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