Recommend this product?
Title:The Magic School Bus Hops Home: A Book About Animal Habitats
Reading Level:Second Grade
Ages:4 - 8 years old
I've caught a few Magic School Bus TV shows in my lifetime, and not only have I found them very entertaining, but also they seem to be very informative about a variety of topics. I have never, however, read a book. This book is based on the episode which usually airs on PBS.
Wanda decides that it's a good day to bring her pet frog into class as they had been learning about animal homes last week. Ms. Frizzle, ever so accepting, asks what Bella the frog needs in her home to survive. The kids come up with water, food, and fresh air.
As the kids are making Bella a habitat, she hops out of the open window. Wanda is of course distraught and blames everything on Arnold. She asks Ms. Frizzle if they can go look for Bella, and Ms. Frizzle gets that look in her eyes.
It seems that its time for the class to take a field trip. Arnold is as reluctant as ever. Once the class is aboard the bus, the whole bus turns into a frog. They stop at a fast running creek to look for Bella.
Wanda thinks this is a good place for a frog to be because there seem to be plenty of insects around as well as running water. When they look around, though, there is no Bella. While looking Arnold and Wanda both manage to fall into the stream. They are swept away headed towards a waterfall when the bus picks them up and puts them back on the shore.
Wanda then points out that the water in the stream is definitely running too fast for even a frog. Ralphie adds that if Bella laid her eggs in the stream they would be gone too quickly. It's then that a heron flies by, and Ms. Frizzle tells the class to follow the heron. They certainly aren't sure why, but they head after the Friz who leads the way.
They arrive at a pond where the water is nice and quiet. It seems that some beavers had built a dam which turned the stream into a nice pond which would be a great place for a frog to live.
Just then Wanda spots Bella, but she also spots the heron coming towards Bella. Wanda runs out into the pond and jumps onto the lily pad trying to save Bella. Just as she does that Bella jumps off to avoid capture. When the bird flies away it seems that both Wanda and Bella are safe.
Wanda wants to protect Bella from being eaten by another heron, but Ms. Frizzle points out that Bella is too quick to be eaten by a heron. Wanda realizes that there are safe places here where Bella can hide.
Just then another frog comes up and joins Bella on another lily pad. Wanda realizes that Bella has everything she needs in her home right there. She leaves Bella behind, and the rest of the class returns to normal size. Wanda misses Bella, but the class gives her a toy bullfrog so that she'll feel better.
This is one episode that I haven't seen on PBS (although I'm sure it's been on sometime.) So I can't compare it to the show, but knowing what the shows are like I can hazard a guess. This probably takes less time for your children to read than it would for them to watch the show. It was been edited in some places so that it won't overwhelm them with the number of words. The great thing about the book is that in the illustrations it'll have small text bubbles where the characters are talking. That way you can get a sense of the characters just like you do on television. For example, Ralphie at one point says in a text bubble that Bella will be very "hoppy." Just like on the show he has all this great humor that he comes up with (that usually elicits a groan from the class.) They even illustrate Ms. Frizzle in her wild outfits.
I think the most fun illustration in the book to me is when Wanda is asking Ms. Frizzle if they can go look for Bella. Ms. Frizzle is in a dress with blue herons all over it along with some cattails and a huge sun. It looks like her earrings are lady bugs. She is holding Liz. Wanda has her hands outstretched, and Arnold has a look on his face which says he knows that they are going on a field trip. Arnold is never happy about that. He has a thought bubble that says, "Uh oh! I know that look in her eyes!" It's a great illustration
Likes and Dislikes
There are several things that I like about this book. First of all, I love that it's so informative. The kids really learn about animals (especially the bullfrog in this), and what they need in their homes to survive. But they do it in such a way that's really fun and entertaining. Who wouldn't love a teacher like Ms. Frizzle? She seems like so much fun. Secondly, I love that the characters retain their personality from the TV show. Arnold is still leery of field trips and Ralphie still makes puns that everyone groans at. Another thing I enjoy about this book is that at the end they have letters from the readers. This helps the kids to know what is real and what isn't. In this book one letter warns the kids not to jump on lily pads unless they have floatation devices on. Along the same line at the end there is a letter that sums up the book. This one tells the kids, parents and teachers that animals require basic things like water, food, and shelter. It's another layer of information that is added to the book. The illustrations are fun in this, and it just seems like everything is well done.
The only thing that I would put on the negative side would be that they took a TV show that probably most children have seen and turned it into a book. I imagine that it follows the show pretty closely. Some children might not want to read what they already have seen on Television.
This book would be great for teachers to use when they are teaching about specific types of animals or what animals need in their homes. They could even use this to do a project. Parents could possibly use this before getting their child a pet. It might help them learn that there are specific things that a pet needs and even their responsibilities within that. I'm sure that you and your child could come up with some great ways to use this book if you just think about it.
This is a good book, and I do recommend it but only if your child hasn't seen the Television shows or if you know they would enjoy reading it even if they have seen the TV shows.