Neha Patil (Editor)

The Magic School Bus at the Waterworks

Updated on
Share on FacebookTweet on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Reddit
8.6/101 Votes Alchetron
1 Ratings
Rate This

Rate This

Country  United States
Series  The Magic School Bus
Originally published  24 July 1986
Page count  40
4.2/5 Goodreads

Illustrator  Bruce Degen
Language  English
Publication date  July 24, 1986
Author  Joanna Cole
The Magic School Bus at the Waterworks t3gstaticcomimagesqtbnANd9GcRJwUo4kQ6c3w2Gs4
Publisher  Scholastic Corporation (reprints)
Followed by  The Search for the Missing Bones
Characters  Ms. Frizzle, Arnold Matthew Perlstein, Wanda Li, Ralphie Tennelli, Liz, Tim Jamal, Dorothy Ann, The Bus
Genres  Science, Children's literature
Similar  Works by Joanna Cole, Bruce Degen books, The Magic School Bus books

The magic school bus at the waterworks

The Magic School Bus at the Waterworks is the first book in the The Magic School Bus series. Written by Joanna Cole and illustrated by Bruce Degan, it is a picture book and introduces most of the main characters of the series, including Ms. Frizzle, Arnold, Dorothy Ann, Ralphie (called "Ralph" in the book), Tim, Wanda and Liz as well as several students who did not appear in the later television series. Carlos, Keesha and Phoebe do not appear in this book, though a student called "John" in the book bears an uncanny physical resemblance to Carlos.


The book depicts the class's first field trip with Ms. Frizzle. Despite the title, the bus is not depicted as directly causing the strange events of the field trip as it would be in later books and the television series. In this book, strange events just seem to happen with no explanation and continue to happen after the kids leave the bus in a cloud.


The book begins by introducing the character of Ms. Frizzle and describing her unusual teaching methods. Soon, she decides to take the class on a field trip to the waterworks, which the kids are sure will be boring, especially compared to the trips the kids in other classes go on. However, after driving through a tunnel, the bus becomes plastered with images of octopuses and everyone inside finds themselves wearing scuba diving outfits.

Once this occurs, the bus rises up into a cloud along with evaporating water. Ms. Frizzle makes all the kids get out of the bus by threatening to give them extra homework if they don't. However, the kids begin shrinking once they're outside and, once they're each the size of a raindrop, they rain down into a river, which carries them into the town's water purification system. After going through the waterworks, the pipes take the class back to the school. They come out in the girl's bathroom, where, once out of the faucet, they are instantly restored to their regular size and normal clothing (except for Ms. Frizzle still being in her octopus dress).

Ms. Frizzle, however, appears to have no memory of the strange trip and the class later sees the bus outside. They wonder how it returned from the cloud and even consider that they may have imagined their whole adventure. The book ends with Ms. Frizzle informing them that they will be studying volcanoes next. The main story is then followed by two pages listing things that couldn't happen in real life.

Television adaptation

In the second season of the Magic School Bus television series, the book was loosely adapted into the episode "Wet All Over," which featured a far greater amount of plot. In the episode, Arnold and Wanda collect water in the girls' bathroom and Arnold accidentally leaves Ms. Frizzle's key in there and forgets to turn off the water. While the class is on the field trip, Liz comically struggles to try and stop the bathroom from flooding.

Unlike in the book, the class is actually turned into water and the bus journeys with them on their trip through the water cycle. Being and behaving like water, they find themselves trapped in the water cycle and realize the only way they can escape is to get Ms. Frizzle's key back. This is when Arnold remembers he left the key in the bathroom and that he forgot to turn off the water. The bus manages to redirect them to the waterworks and they then travel through the pipes to get to the bathroom, where they get the key and are restored to their human forms.

When Arnold and the others get into a pickle jar in the following episode, referencing this episode, he will say "I hope we're not back in the water cycle".


The Magic School Bus at the Waterworks Wikipedia

Similar Topics
County Hospital (film)
Roger Parker
Jeremy Stanley