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Magic School Bus Docks in Manhattan

By Mathew Katz | October 21, 2011 12:03pm

HELL'S KITCHEN — Seatbelts, everyone!

The time-traveling, shrinking, rocket-boosted bus from Scholastic's 'Magic School Bus' book and animated TV series landed on the shores of New York Thursday to teach local kids about marine life in the Hudson — and to celebrate the original book's 25th anniversary.

The bus was placed atop a barge and sailed up to Hudson River Park's Pier 84, where about two dozen students from the United Nations International School got to meet the wackily dressed Ms. Frizzle, the books' fictional science teacher, as well as the series' creators.

"It's so amazing," said author Joanna Cole. "When I was writing the first book, I never thought there would be this event or that this would be so exciting and [the book would be so] famous."

The series, in which kids learn about science and technology using a magical yellow schoolbus, spawned dozens of books, video games and a popular animated kids' show on PBS, which can still be seen in re-runs.

In each story, Ms. Frizzle brings her class on an educational adventure using a bus than can fly to the moon, shrink to the size of a blood cell, or even get baked into a pie.

"It's jam packed with information," said Bruce Degan, the books' illustrator. "When the first book came out, it was obvious the kids were waiting for something that would take science, really good, serious science, and somehow find a way to make it fun."

On hand to help Ms. Frizzle on Thursday was Merryl Kafka, a marine biologist from the New York Aquarium, who showed the kids all kinds of creatures, great and slimy, that live in the Hudson.

"The Hudson River is filled with thousands of forms of life," she told a group of riveted kids who were wearing Magic School Bus regalia.

The kids — and their school's librarian — walked away with a copy of the Magic School Bus' first adventure, "At the Waterworks," which was published in 1986. The series is still going strong, and has moved into the 21st century with its own iPad app.

"It's been such an adventure, we don't know what's coming next," said Cole. "We'd love to have suggestions."