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Joanna Cole (1944–) Biography - Personal, Addresses, Career, Member, Honors Awards, Writings, Adaptations, Sidelights

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(Ann Cooke)

Personal

Born 1944, in Newark, NJ; Education: Attended University of Massachusetts at Amherst and Indiana University—Bloomington; City College of New York (now of the City University of New York), B.A., 1967.

Addresses

Office—c/o Scholastic, Inc., 555 Broadway, New York, NY 10012-3999.

Career

New York City Board of Education, New York, NY, elementary school librarian and instructor, 1967–68; Newsweek, New York, NY, letters correspondent, 1968–71; Scholastic, Inc., New York, NY, associate editor of See-Saw Book Club, 1971–73; Doubleday & Co., Garden City, NY, senior editor of books for young readers, 1973–80; full-time writer, 1980–.

Member

Authors Guild, Authors League of America, Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Honors Awards

All of Cole's science books have been named Outstanding Science Trade Books for Children, National Science Teachers Association/Children's Book Council; Child Study Association of America's Children's Books of the Year, 1971, for Cockroaches, 1972, for Giraffes at Home and Twins: The Story of Multiple Births, 1973, for My Puppy Is Born and Plants in Winter, 1974, for Dinosaur Story, 1975, for A Calf Is Born, and 1985, for Large as Life: Daytime Animals, Large as Life: Night-time Animals, and The New Baby at Your House; Children's Book Showcase selection, Children's Book Council, 1977, for A Chick Hatches; New York Academy of Sciences Children's Science honor book, 1981, and Children's Choice selection, International Reading Association/Children's Book Council (IRA/CBC), 1982, both for A Snake's Body; Golden Kite Honor Book Award, Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, and Notable Children's Book selection, Association for Library Service to Children, both 1984, both for How You Were Born; Irma Simonton Black Award for Excellence in Children's Literature, 1986, for Doctor Change; Boston Globe/Horn Book Honor Book for Nonfiction, 1987, for The Magic School Bus at the Waterworks; IRA/CBC Children's Choice award, 1990, for The Magic School Bus inside the Earth; Eva L. Gordon Award, American Nature Study Society, 1990, for body of science and nature writing; Washington Post/Children's Book Guild Award for Nonfiction, 1991, for body of work; David McCord Children's Literature Citation, Framingham (MA) State College/Nobscot Council of the IRA, 1994, for significant contribution to excellence in children's literature. Recipient of state children's book awards, including Colorado Children's Choice Award, and Washington State Children's Choice Award, both 1989, both for The Magic School Bus at the Waterworks, Garden State Award for nonfiction, 1992, for The Magic School Bus inside the Human Body, and 1993, for The Magic School Bus Lost in the Solar System. Many of Cole's books have received best or notable book citations from the American Library Association, Horn Book, and School Library Journal.

Writings

NONFICTION; FOR CHILDREN

Cockroaches, illustrated by Jean Zallinger, Morrow (New York, NY), 1971.

(Under pseudonym Ann Cooke) Giraffes at Home, illustrated by Robert Quackenbush, Crowell (New York, NY), 1972.

(With Madeleine Edmondson) Twins: The Story of Multiple Births, illustrated by Salvatore Raciti, Morrow (New York, NY), 1972.

Plants in Winter, illustrated by Kazue Mizumura, Crowell (New York, NY), 1973.

Fleas, illustrated by Elsie Wrigley, Morrow (New York, NY), 1973.

Dinosaur Story, illustrated by Mort Kunstler, Morrow (New York, NY), 1974.

Saber-Toothed Tiger and Other Ice-Age Mammals, illustrated by Lydia Rosier, Morrow (New York, NY), 1977.

Cars and How They Go, illustrated by Gail Gibbons, Crowell (New York, NY), 1983.

How You Were Born, Morrow (New York, NY), 1984, revised edition, with photographs by Margaret Miller, 1994.

The New Baby at Your House, photographs by Hella Hammid, Morrow (New York, NY), 1985, revised edition, with photographs by Margaret Miller, 1998.

Cuts, Breaks, Bruises, and Burns: How Your Body Heals, illustrated by True Kelly, Crowell (New York, NY), 1985.

Large as Life: Daytime Animals, illustrated by Kenneth Lilly, Knopf (New York, NY), 1985.

Large as Life: Nighttime Animals, illustrated by Kenneth Lilly, Knopf (New York, NY), 1985, published as Large as Life Animals in Beautiful Life-Size Paintings, 1990.

A Dog's Body, photographs by Jim and Ann Monteith, Morrow (New York, NY), 1985.

Hungry, Hungry Sharks: A Step-Two Book, illustrated by Patricia Wynne, Random House (New York, NY), 1986.

The Human Body: How We Evolved, illustrated by Walter Gaffney-Kessell and Juan Carlos Barberis, Morrow (New York, NY), 1987.

Evolution, illustrated by Aliki, Crowell (New York, NY), 1987.

Asking about Sex and Growing Up: A Question-and-Answer Book for Boys & Girls, illustrated by Alan Tiegreen, Morrow (New York, NY), 1988.

A Gift from Saint Francis: The First Crèche, illustrated by Michele Lemieux, Morrow (New York, NY), 1989.

Your New Potty, illustrated by Margaret Miller, Morrow (New York, NY), 1989.

Your Insides, illustrated by Paul Meisel, Putnam (New York, NY), 1992.

You Can't Smell a Flower with Your Ear!: All about Your Five Senses, illustrated by Mavis Smith, Putnam (New York, NY), 1994.

(With Stephanie Calmenson) Crazy Eights and Other Card Games, illustrated by Alan Tiegreen, Morrow (New York, NY), 1994.

My New Kitten, photographs by Margaret Miller, Morrow (New York, NY), 1995.

Spider's Lunch: All about Garden Spiders, illustrated by Ron Broda, Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 1995.

Riding Silver Star, photographs by Margaret Miller, Morrow (New York, NY), 1996.

(With Stephanie Calmenson) The Rain or Shine Activity Book: Fun Things to Make or Do, illustrated by Alan Tiegreen, Morrow (New York, NY), 1997.

(With Stephanie Calmenson) The Any Day Book, Morrow (New York, NY), 1997.

(With Stephanie Calmenson and Michael Street) Marbles: 101 Ways to Play, illustrated by Alan Tiegreen, Morrow (New York, NY), 1998.

(With Stephanie Calmenson and Michael Street) Fun on the Run: Travel Games and Songs, illustrated by Alan Tiegreen, Morrow (New York, NY), 1999.

Potty Book about a Boy, Morrow (New York, NY), 1999.

My Big Girl Potty, illustrated by Maxie Chambliss, Morrow (New York, NY), 2000.

My Big Boy Potty, illustrated by Maxie Chambliss, Morrow (New York, NY), 2000.

Card Games, Morrow (New York, NY), 2000.

Hopscotch and Sidewalk Game, Morrow (New York, NY), 2000.

When You Were inside Mommy, illustrated by Maxie Chambliss, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2001.

When Mommy and Daddy Go to Work, illustrated by Maxie Chambliss, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2001.

Sharing Is Fun, illustrated by Maxie Chambliss, Harper-Collins (New York, NY), 2004.

NONFICTION FOR CHILDREN; PHOTOGRAPHS BY JEROME WEXLER

My Puppy Is Born, Morrow, 1973, revised edition, photo-graphs by Margaret Miller, 1991.

A Calf Is Born, Morrow (New York, NY), 1975.

A Chick Hatches, Morrow (New York, NY), 1976.

A Fish Hatches, Morrow (New York, NY), 1978.

(With Jerome Wexler) Find the Hidden Insect, Morrow (New York, NY), 1979.

A Frog's Body, Morrow (New York, NY), 1980.

A Horse's Body, Morrow (New York, NY), 1981.

A Snake's Body, Morrow (New York, NY), 1981.

A Cat's Body, Morrow (New York, NY), 1982.

A Bird's Body, Morrow (New York, NY), 1982.

An Insect's Body, photographs by Jerome Wexler and Raymond A. Mendez, Morrow (New York, NY), 1984.

"MAGIC SCHOOL BUS" SERIES; NONFICTION

The Magic School Bus at the Waterworks, illustrated by Bruce Degen, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1986, special edition, Scholastic/New York City Department of Environmental Protection, 1990.

The Magic School Bus inside the Earth, illustrated by Bruce Degen, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1987.

The Magic School Bus inside the Human Body, illustrated by Bruce Degen, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1989.

The Magic School Bus Lost in the Solar System, illustrated by Bruce Degen, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1990.

The Magic School Bus on the Ocean Floor, illustrated by Bruce Degen, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1992.

The Magic School Bus in the Time of the Dinosaurs, illustrated by Bruce Degen, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1994.

The Magic School Bus inside a Hurricane, illustrated by Bruce Degen, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1995.

The Magic School Bus Gets Baked in a Cake, illustrated by Bruce Degen, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1995.

The Magic School Bus Plants Seeds, illustrated by Bruce Degen, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1995.

The Magic School Bus Briefcase, illustrated by Bruce Degen, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1995.

The Magic School Bus Meets the Rot Squad, illustrated by Bruce Degen, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1995.

The Magic School Bus Hello out There, illustrated by Bruce Degen, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1995.

The Magic School Bus in the Haunted Museum, illustrated by Bruce Degen, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1995.

The Magic School Bus Hops Home, illustrated by Bruce Degen, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1995.

The Magic School Bus Gets All Dried Up, illustrated by Bruce Degen, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1996.

The Magic School Bus Wet All Over, illustrated by Bruce Degen, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1996.

The Magic School Bus inside a Beehive, illustrated by Bruce Degen, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1996.

The Magic School Bus out of This World, illustrated by Bruce Degen, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1996.

The Magic School Bus Gets Eaten, illustrated by Bruce Degen, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1996.

The Magic School Bus Blows Its Top, illustrated by Bruce Degen, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1996.

The Magic School Bus Ups and Downs, illustrated by Bruce Degen, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1997.

The Magic School Bus and the Electric Field Trip, illustrated by Bruce Degen, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1997.

The Magic School Bus Goes Upstream, illustrated by Bruce Degen, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1997.

The Magic School Bus Gets Planted, illustrated by Bruce Degen, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1997.

The Magic School Bus Shows and Tells: A Book about Archaeology, illustrated by Bruce Degen, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1997.

The Magic School Bus in a Pickle, illustrated by Bruce Degen, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1997.

The Magic School Bus Plays Ball, illustrated by Bruce Degen, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1998.

The Magic School Bus in the Arctic, illustrated by Bruce Degen, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1998.

The Magic School Bus in the Rain Forest, illustrated by Bruce Degen, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1998.

The Magic School Bus Explores the Senses, illustrated by Bruce Degen, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1999.

The Magic School Bus Sees Stars, illustrated by Bruce Degen, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1999.

The Magic School Bus Answers Questions, illustrated by Bruce Degen, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1999.

The Magic School Bus Taking Flight, illustrated by Bruce Degen, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1999.

The Magic School Bus Going Batty, illustrated by Bruce Degen, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1999.

The Magic School Bus Gets Ants in Its Pants, illustrated by Bruce Degen, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1999.

Ms. Frizzle's Adventures in Egypt, illustrated by Bruce Degen, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2000.

Ms. Frizzle's Adventures: Medieval Castle, illustrated by Bruce Degen, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2002.

The Magic School Bus Flies from the Nest, illustrated by Carolyn Bracken, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2004.

The Magic School Bus: Lost in the Snow, illustrated by Carolyn Bracken, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2004.

Ms. Frizzle's Adventures: Imperial China, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2005.

FICTION FOR CHILDREN

Cousin Matilda and the Foolish Wolf, Albert Whitman (Morton Grove, IL), 1970.

The Secret Box, Morrow (New York, NY), 1971.

Fun on Wheels, illustrated by Whitney Darrow, Morrow (New York, NY), 1976.

The Clown-Arounds, illustrated by Jerry Smath, Parents Magazine Press, 1981.

The Clown-Arounds Have a Party, illustrated by Jerry Smath, Parents Magazine Press, 1982.

Golly Gump Swallowed a Fly, illustrated by Bari Weissman, Parents Magazine Press, 1982.

Get Well, Clown-Arounds!, illustrated by Jerry Smath, Parents Magazine Press, 1982.

The Clown-Arounds Go on Vacation, illustrated by Jerry Smath, Parents Magazine Press, 1983.

Aren't You Forgetting Something, Fiona?, illustrated by Ned Delaney, Parents Magazine Press, 1983.

Bony-Legs, illustrated by Dirk Zimmer, Four Winds, 1983.

Sweet Dreams, Clown-Arounds, illustrated by Jerry Smath, Parents Magazine Press, 1985.

Monster Manners, illustrated by Jared Lee, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1986.

This Is the Place for Me, illustrated by William Van Horn, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1986.

Doctor Change, illustrated by Donald Carrick, Morrow (New York, NY), 1986.

Monster Movie, illustrated by Jared Lee, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1987.

Norma Jean, Jumping Bean, illustrated by Lynn Munsinger, Random House (New York, NY), 1987, reprinted, 2003.

Mixed-Up Magic, illustrated by True Kelly, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1987.

(With husband, Philip Cole) Hank and Frank Fix up the House, illustrated by William Van Horn, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1988.

Animal Sleepyheads: One to Ten, illustrated by Jeni Bassett, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1988.

The Missing Tooth, illustrated by Marilyn Hafner, Random House (New York, NY), 1988, reprinted, 2004.

(With Philip Cole) Big Goof and Little Goof, illustrated by M.K. Brown, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1989.

Who Put the Pepper in the Pot?, illustrated by R.W. Alley, Parents Magazine Press, 1989.

It's Too Noisy!, illustrated by Kate Duke, Crowell (New York, NY), 1989.

Buster Cat Goes Out, illustrated by Rose Mary Berlin, Western Publishing, 1989.

Bully Trouble: A Step Two Book, illustrated by Marilyn Hafner, Random House (New York, NY), 1989, reprinted, 2003.

Monster Valentines, illustrated by Jared Lee, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1990.

Don't Call Me Names!, illustrated by Lynn Munsinger, Random House (New York, NY), 1990.

Don't Tell the Whole World!, illustrated by Kate Duke, Crowell (New York, NY), 1990.

How I Was Adopted: Samantha's Story, illustrated by Maxie Chambliss, Morrow (New York, NY), 1995.

(With Stephanie Calmenson) The Gator Girls, illustrated by Lynn Munsinger, Morrow (New York, NY), 1995.

Monster and Muffin, illustrated by Karen Lee Schmidt, Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 1996.

(With Stephanie Calmenson) Bug in a Rug: Reading Fun for Just Beginners, illustrated by Alan Tiegreen, Morrow (New York, NY), 1996.

(With Stephanie Calmenson) Rockin' Reptiles, illustrated by Lynn Munsinger, Morrow (New York, NY), 1997.

I'm a Big Brother, illustrated by Maxie Chambliss, Morrow (New York, NY), 1997, revised edition, 2004.

I'm a Big Sister, illustrated by Maxie Chambliss, Morrow (New York, NY), 1997, revised edition, 2004.

(With Stephanie Calmenson) Get Well, Gators!, illustrated by Lynn Munsinger, Morrow (New York, NY), 1998.

Liz Sorts It Out, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1998.

Liz Looks for a New Home, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1998.

(With Stephanie Calmenson) Gator Halloween, Morrow (New York, NY), 1999.

Jump Rope Rhymes, Morrow (New York, NY), 2000.

Street Rhymes, Morrow (New York, NY), 2000.

When Mommy and Daddy Go to Work, illustrated by Maxie Chambliss, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2001.

My Friend the Doctor, illustrated by Maxie Chambliss, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2005.

EDITOR; FOR CHILDREN

(And author of introduction) Best-Loved Folktales of the World, illustrated by Jill K. Schwarz, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1982.

A New Treasury of Children's Poetry: Old Favorites and New Discoveries, illustrated by Judith Gwyn Brown, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1983.

(With Stephanie Calmenson) The Laugh Book, illustrated by Hafner, Doubleday, 1986.

(With Stephanie Calmenson) The Read-aloud Treasury: Favorite Nursery Rhymes, Poems, Stories & More for the Very Young, illustrated by Ann Schweninger, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1988.

Anna Banana: 101 Jump Rope Rhymes, illustrated by Alan Tiegreen, Morrow (New York, NY), 1989.

(With Stephanie Calmenson) Miss Mary Mack: And Other Children's Street Rhymes, illustrated by Alan Tiegreen, Morrow (New York, NY), 1990.

(With Stephanie Calmenson) Ready … Set … Read! The Beginning Reader Treasury, illustrated by Anne Burgess, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1990.

(With Stephanie Calmenson) The Scary Book, illustrated by Chris Demarest, Morrow (New York, NY), 1991.

(With Stephanie Calmenson) The Eentsy, Weentsy Spider: Fingerplays and Action Rhymes, illustrated by Alan Tiegreen, Morrow (New York, NY), 1991.

(With Stephanie Calmenson) Pat-a-Cake and Other Play Rhymes, illustrated by Alan Tiegreen, Morrow (New York, NY), 1992.

(With Stephanie Calmenson) Pin the Tail on the Donkey and Other Party Games, illustrated by Alan Tiegreen, Morrow (New York, NY), 1993.

(With Stephanie Calmenson) Six Sick Sheep: One Hundred Tongue Twisters, illustrated by Alan Tiegreen, Morrow (New York, NY), 1993.

(With Stephanie Calmenson) Give a Dog a Bone: Stories, Poems, Jokes, and Riddles about Dogs, illustrated by John Speirs, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1994.

(With Stephanie Calmenson) Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?: And Other Riddles Old and New, illustrated by Alan Tiegreen, Morrow (New York, NY), 1994.

(With Stephanie Calmenson) A Pocketful of Laughs: Stories, Poems, Jokes, and Riddles, illustrated by Hafner, Doubleday, 1995.

(With Stephanie Calmenson) Ready, Set, Read—and Laugh!: A Funny Treasury for Beginning Readers, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1995.

(With Stephanie Calmenson) Yours till Banana Splits: 201 Autograph Rhymes, illustrated by Alan Tiegreen, Morrow, 1995.

OTHER

The Parents' Book of Toilet Teaching, Ballantine, Morrow (New York, NY), 1983.

(With Stephanie Calmenson) Safe from the Start: Your Child's Safety from Birth to Age Five, Facts on File (New York, NY), 1990.

(With Wendy Saul) On the Bus with Joanna Cole: A Creative Autobiography, Heinemann (London, England), 1996.

Also contributor of articles to Parents.

Adaptations

An animated series for PBS-TV based on the "Magic School Bus" books began in 1994 and features the voices of Lily Tomlin as Ms. Frizzle, Robby Benson, Carol Channing, and Malcolm-Jamal Warner; the series is also available in a CD-ROM version by Microsoft Home and Scholastic, Inc. The "Magic School Bus" series was the basis of the American Library Association's 1994 reading program, "Reading Is a Magic Trip," and were adapted as Scholastic's "The Magic Schoolbus" science chapter-book series. Cassette recordings have been made of Bony-Legs, Random House, 1985, and Monster Movie and Dinosaur Story, both Scholastic, 1989.

Sidelights

Joanna Cole is the author of a wealth of children's books on subjects as varied as any young reader's interests. Cole's fertile imagination has produced beginning readers with jokes and puzzles, humorous tales of the Clown-Around family, retellings of folk tales and myths, and books about science that dazzle, inspire, and inform. The winner of numerous awards from the American Library Association, the National Science Teachers Association/Children's Book Council, and various state reading associations, Cole follows her own With illustrations by Bruce Degen, Cole's "Magic Schoolbus" books have inspired young readers with a fascination for how things work since the mid-1980s. (From The Adventures of the Magic School Bus, adapted from the television series based on Cole's books.)widespread interests to write about the life cycle of an insect, to field questions on sex, to talk about potty training, or to take a trip to the stars in her popular Magic School Bus. She is credited with introducing the fascinating world of science to legions of young readers through her stand-alone titles as well as through book series such as the hugely popular "Magic SchoolBus" books, which ultimately inspired its own television program. A thorough researcher, Cole is praised for her scientific accuracy, but her books gain most of their effectiveness from her humor and her frank, easily under-stood explanations of sometimes complicated technical subjects.

Cole first discovered the pleasures of writing when she was in grade school. "I discovered in the fifth grade what I liked to do; write reports and stories, make them interesting and/or funny and draw pictures to go along with the words," she once commented. "Except for the pictures, I still do that. I remember grade school very clearly when I sat at my desk, happily interested in whatever subject I was writing about. Science was my favorite. Our teacher, Miss Bair, would assign us to read a science trade book every week. And each week, she would choose one student to do an experiment and report on it to the class. I would have done an experiment every week if she had let me. Grade school was very important to me, much more influential than my later education. Maybe that's why as an adult I ended up writing books for children."

After receiving a bachelor's degree from the City College of New York, Cole pursued her interest in books by working variously as a librarian, teacher, and editor. It was during her first job at an elementary school that she was inspired by an article about cockroaches in the Wall Street Journal. Realizing that this was a subject she had never read about in school, Cole decided to write about it herself. The first publisher she submitted her manuscript to rejected the idea, but the author had more luck when she sent her book to the publishing house of William Morrow, where editor Connie C. Epstein helped Cole hone her skills in science writing. Beginning with that debut book, Cole has gone on to pen both nonfiction and fiction for younger readers. In 1980, after a decade of editing children's books, she became a full-time writer.

Many of Cole's nonfiction works focus on the life sciences. In her "Animal Bodies" series she introduces young readers to the anatomy of animals such as horses, frogs, dogs, birds, cats, and snakes. Reviewing An Insect's Body in Horn Book, Sarah S. Gagne commented that "if it is possible for Joanna Cole to improve on the unparalleled series of books about animal bodies that she has written over the years, she has now done so."

Using the cricket as a representative insect, Cole examined its body structure and how this corresponds to the insect's environment. Booklist reviewer Ilene Cooper, reviewing the same title, remarked that "anyone whose curiosity is intact cannot help but be captivated by this fascinating work." The series concludes with The Human Body: How We Evolved, which explains how archaeologists piece together the evolutionary history of mankind and how human anatomy compares to that of apes, chimpanzees, gorillas, and man's other primate cousins. Cooper called this volume a "fine introduction to evolution that will go a long way toward answering children's questions about their origins," while Jason R. Taylor, writing in Science Books and Films, deemed The Human Body "an excellent, extremely well-researched book."

When writing, Cole is very aware of how young children's feelings affect their reactions to factual material. In her series on animals' births, which includes A Calf Is Born, My Puppy Is Born, How You Were Born, and My New Kitten, she explains the physiology of birth with candor and accuracy, and is careful to include the gentle care baby mammals need to grow, care that mirrors children's own experience. Reviewing a revised edition of How You Were Born, Denise L. Moll noted in School Library Journal that "Cole relates the process of conception and birth in a personalized manner," and added that while other books on the same subject are available, "Cole's book continues to set the standard." A related title, My New Kitten, "promotes warm, fuzzy feelings and at the same time gives youngsters just a peek at the creatures' developmental stages," according to Margaret Chatham writing in School Library Journal.

A number of Cole's books focus on child development, among them The New Baby at Your House, My Big Boy Potty, When You Were inside Mommy, I'm a Big Brother and I'm a Big Sister, and How I Was Adopted: Samantha's Story. The first-named title deals with the arrival of a new infant, including sibling rivalry, while When You Were inside Mommy describes the development of a baby with "simplicity and sensitivity" according to Booklist contributor Carolyn Phelan. Martha Topol, writing in School Library Journal, felt that The New Baby at Your House "gives honest, practical advice on helping youngsters prepare for and cope with a new arrival." Similar advice is passed on in the companion volumes I'm a Big Brother and I'm a Big Sister. Dina Sherman, reviewing the books in School Library Journal, felt that "familiar situations, as well as positive reinforcement of individuality and importance as part of the family, are good reasons to put this book into the hands of children who will soon be older siblings."

Adoption gets the Cole treatment in How I Was Adopted, in which a young girl tells her own story. A contributor to Publishers Weekly wrote that the book presents a "cheerful, informative approach" to the subject. Stephanie Zvirin, writing in Booklist, noted that "Cole expertly negotiates a middle course that provides children with some excellent, age-appropriate background on adoption." An age-appropriate approach to another important subject—toilet training—is provided in Cole gender-specific duo My Big Boy Potty and My Big Girl Potty. In each volume, Cole collaborates with illustrator Maxie Chambliss to provide encouragement to toddlers ready to take a major step toward independence. In a Publishers Weekly review a writer praised Cole's "gradual approach"—a favorite stuffed animal goes through the appropriate motions in advance of the potty-using novice—and Kathy Broderick noted in Booklist that the "reassuring" pair of volumes benefits from "Cole's matter-of-fact text."

Of all her science books, Cole's "Magic School Bus" series has proved enduringly popular since first appearing in 1986. The "Magic School Bus" books combine science and imaginative fun in stories that have been warmly received by critics and readers alike. As a writer for Children's Books and Their Creators explained, Cole "has given the term nonfiction new meaning" with the long-running series in which, through "a masterly combination of scientific facts, humor, and fantasy,… turn[s] science class into story hour." In each book a class of school children is led by eccentric teacher Ms. Frizzle and sometimes accompanied by Assistant Principal Mr. Wilde on a new adventure of discovery. Illustrator Bruce Degen shows the unlimited possibilities for travel in the amazing bus, which can dig through the earth, travel through time, shrink to microscopic size, and even blast off into space. Each page combines a fact-and fun-filled text that blends with and sometimes competing for room with Degen's artwork. "Just as 'Sesame Street' revolutionized the teaching of letters and numbers by making it so entertaining that children had no idea they were actually learning something, so the 'Magic School Bus' books make science so much fun that the information is almost incidental," wrote Katherine Bouton in the New York Times Book Review. Bouton declared that Cole's books offer "the freshest, most amusing approach to science for children that I've seen," while Andrea Cleghorn, writing in Publishers Weekly, commented that the "Magic School Bus" books "serve science with a sizzle," noting that specialists in the field check all books in the series for accuracy.

Cole based the character of Ms. Frizzle, on her own favorite science teacher, Miss Bair, although, as she once commented, "Miss Bair did not dress at all like Ms. Frizzle!" The kids in the "Magic School Bus" books may grumble a bit about the adventures they experience, but in their hearts they love their teacher and are proud to be in her class. "In 'The Magic School Bus' books I use the same criteria as I do in all my science books," Cole explained. "I write about ideas, rather than just facts. I try to ask an implicit question—such as, How do our bodies get energy from the food we eat? or How do scientists guess what dinosaurs were like? Then I try to answer the question in writing the book." The success of Cole's "Magic School Bus" books, which have sold in the millions worldwide, has carried over to television, where the Public Broadcasting Service turned them into an animated series; Cole and illustrator Degen served as consultants.

Adventures on the school bus take the students, Ms. Frizzle, and Mr. Wilde inside the human body, down to the waterworks, inside a dog's nose or beehive or hurricane, back in time to the world of the dinosaurs, or through space to the stars. "Climb aboard," John Peters encouraged readers in a School Library Journal review of The Magic School Bus in the Time of the Dinosaurs, "there's never a dull moment with 'the Friz' at the wheel!" Reviewing The Magic School Bus Explores the Senses, Christine A. Moesch remarked in School Library Journal that it is "another fun, fact-filled adventure," while The Magic School Bus and the Electric Field Trip, according to Blair Christolon in School Library Journal, "makes a complex subject fun to read about and simple to understand." More recent installments in the series include the "Miss Frizzle's Adventures" books, which allow readers to follow Cole's charismatic tour guide back in time to ancient Egypt, the medieval age, and imperial China.

Although Cole is more often recognized for her science books, she is also the author of a number of stories for children, has compiled anthologies of children's literature, and has written books for adults on parenting and child development. Early in her career Cole also wrote a series of amusing easy-readers featuring the Clown-Arounds, a silly family who sleep in shoes and generally approach life from a goofy angle. Popular retellings of folk tales from Cole include Bony-Legs, "a bang-up read," according to Nancy Palmer writing in School Library Journal, and Don't Tell the Whole World!, an example of "fine storytelling," as a Publishers Weekly contributor noted.

Working with frequent collaborator Stephanie Calmenson, Cole has produced nonfiction anthologies as well as stories in the "Gator Girls" series. In Ready, Set, Read—and Laugh: A Funny Treasury for Beginning Readers Cole and Calmenson compile a collection of stories, poems, jokes, and games that, according to Booklist contributor Hazel Rochman, "will turn readers on to the fun of books." "Kids will delight in the word play and the nonsense," Rochman continued, "and they'll want to read more." Other popular titles include Give a Dog a Bone, The Rain or Shine Activity Book, Marbles: One Hundred One Ways to Play, and Bug in a Rug.

In the "Gator Girls" series, they present best reptilian friends Allie and Amy Gator in adventures that range from going to summer camp to getting over an illness. In the debut volume, The Gator Girls, the two girls want to cram all their summertime activities into the few days they have before going off to camp. Booklist reviewer Mary Harris Veeder wrote that in this beginning chapter book "the joys of true-blue friendship are humorously realized." Get Well, Gators! sees the duo fighting swamp fever in time to take part in a local street fair. "Give this one to chapter-book readers looking for a funny book," advised Kay Weisman in a Booklist review. In Gator Halloween the girls "are up to their old tricks," according to Stephanie Zvirin in Booklist, determined to win the best costume prize in the local Halloween parade. Zvirin called the book "fun, with a dash of over-the-top comedy and wonderful illustrations."

Whether sharing the antics of Ms. Frizzle and her dauntless crew in search of scientific knowledge, or having fun with rhymes and jokes, or making everyday developmental activities into a meaningful experience, Cole has proven that she has what it takes to hook a young reader and bring him or her back for more. "Always keeping mind the emotional level of her audience, Joanna Cole presents her information in a reassuring, caring tone, with great respect for children," concluded the critic for Children's Books and Their Creators. For Cole, being able to write for children is the fulfillment of a childhood dream; for her legions of contented readers it is a windfall.

Biographical and Critical Sources

BOOKS

Authors of Books for Young People, 3rd edition, Scarecrow Press (Metuchen, NJ), 1990.

Children's Books and Their Creators, edited by Anita Silvey, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1995.

Children's Literature Review, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), Volume 5, 1983, Volume 40, 1996.

PERIODICALS

Appraisal: Science Books for Young People, spring, 1973; spring, 1975; spring, 1978; winter, 1980; winter, 1981; winter, 1982.

Booklist, June 15, 1984, Ilene Cooper, review of An Insect's Body, p. 1482; September 1, 1987, Ilene Cooper, review of The Human Body: How We Evolved, p. 61; June 15, 1988, Denise M. Wilms, review of Asking about Sex and Growing Up: A Question-and-Answer Book for Boys & Girls, pp. 1733-1734; April 15, 1995, Mary Harris Veeder, review of The Gator Girls, p. 1497; August, 1995, Stephanie Zvirin, review of How I Was Adopted: Samantha's Story, p. 1955; October 1, 1995, Hazel Rochman, review of Ready, Set, Read—and Laugh!: A Funny Treasury for Beginning Readers, p. 329; October 15, 1997, p. 408; March 1, 1998, p. 1138; November 15, 1998, Kay Weisman, review of Get Well, Gators!, p. 590; September 1, 1999, S. Zvirin, review of Gator Halloween, p. 145; November 1, 1999, p. 534; January 1, 2000, p. 928; February 1, 2001, Kathy Broderick, reviews of My Big Boy Potty and My Big Girl Potty, p. 1055; Au-gust, 2001, Carolyn Phelan, review of When Mommy and Daddy Go to Work and When You Were inside Mommy, p. 2124; July, 2003, Carolyn Phelan, review of Mrs. Frizzle's Adventures: Medieval Castle, p. 1881; July, 2005, Carolyn Phelan, review of My Friend the Doctor, p. 1929.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, July-August, 1986; November, 1986; February, 1987; January, 1988; March, 1988; June, 1988; December, 1992, p. 108; October, 1994, p. 40; October, 1996, p. 52; June, 1995, p. 340.

Horn Book, October, 1980; February, 1982; October, 1984, Sarah S. Gagne, review of An Insect's Body, p. 627; May-June, 1986, p. 347; September-October, 1986, p. 609; May-June, 1995, p. 348; January-February, 1998, p. 90; July-August, 1999, p. 480; September-October, 2005, Margaret A. Chang, review of Ms. Frizzle's Adventures: Imperial China, p. 600.

Kirkus Reviews, March 1, 1988, review of Asking about Sex and Growing Up, p. 361; July 1, 2003, review of Ms. Frizzle's Adventures: Medieval Castle, p. 907; June 15, 2005, review of Ms. Frizzle's Adventures: Imperial China, p. 679.

Los Angeles Times Book Review, March 22, 1987; February 28, 1988; July 30, 1989; December 17, 1989; September 30, 1990.

New York Times, April 23, 1999, p. E39.

New York Times Book Review, February 7, 1988, p. 28.

Publishers Weekly, October 12, 1990, review of Don't Tell the Whole World!, p. 63; January 25, 1991, Andrea Cleghorn, "Aboard the Magic School Bus," pp. 27-28; April 18, 1994, p. 27; July 4, 1994, p. 63; October 2, 1995, review of How I Was Adopted, p. 74; August 23, 1999, p. 61.

School Library Journal, December, 1971; February, 1973; January, 1980; May, 1982; December, 1983, Nancy Palmer, review of Bony-Legs, p. 79; March, 1987, pp. 113-115; November, 1992, p. 38; December, 1992, p. 95; April, 1993, Denise L. Moll, review of How You Were Born, p. 110; September, 1994, John Peters, review of The Magic School Bus in the Time of the Dinosaurs, pp. 206, 226; April, 1995, Margaret Chatham, review of My New Kitten, p. 123; March, 1996, p. 188l; October, 1996, p. 111; April, 1997, Dina Sherman, review of I'm a Big Brother and I'm a Big Sister, pp. 96-97; November, 1997, Blair Christolon, review of The Magic School Bus and the Electric Field Trip, p. 106; April, 1998, Martha Topol, review of The New Baby at Your House, p. 114; May, 1998, p. 130; February, 1999, Christine A. Moesch, review of The Magic School Bus Explores the Senses, p. 96; October, 1999, p. 166; November, 2000, Jane Marino, review of My Big Boy Potty, p. 112; November, 2001, Marilyn Ackerman, review of When Mommy and Daddy Go to Work, p. 113; December, 2001, Kathleen Kelly MacMillan, review of When You Were inside Mommy, p. 97; July, 2003, Joyce Adams Burner, review of How You Were Born, p. 77, and Anne Chapman Callaghan, review of Ms. Frizzle's Adventures: Medieval Castle, p. 112; August, 2004, Rachel G. Payne, review of Sharing Is Fun, p. 85; August, 2005, Suzanne Myers Harold, review of Ms. Frizzle's Adventures: Imperial China, p. 112; September, 2005, Laurel L. Iakovakis, review of My Friend the Doctor, p. 167.

Science Books and Films, January-February, 1988, Jason R. Taylor, review of The Human Body, pp. 174-175.

OTHER

Riding the Magic School Bus with Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen (videotape), Scholastic, 1993.

Lorraine Cole Biography - Broke Barriers to Attend College, Studied Communication Disorders, Built a Career as Association Executive [next] [back] Babette Cole (1949-) Biography - Personal, Career, Honors Awards, Writings, Adaptations, Sidelights

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about 2 years ago

I found this information very helpful in preparing to do a monthly "Meet the Author" presentation about Joanna Cole at my granddaughter's elementary school. Thank you. One thing that might be helpful would be to include the grade levels or age groups each book title is intended to reach. Just a thought. Thanks!

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almost 3 years ago

hi, i am david I want a little info about you.