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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Magic School Bus Rides Again is a reboot of the popular '90s series The Magic School Bus, itself inspired by the Scholastic book series of the same name. Most of the characters are the same, with the notable exception of the original Miss Frizzle passing the torch to her younger sister, Ms. Frizzle (voiced by SNL's Kate McKinnon). Each episode introduces a broad scientific concept (ecosystems, for instance) and follows the class as they embark on a magical field trip to learn about the concept in a hands-on way. A parallel story involves a lesson that one or more of the characters learn from the experience. Though the educational content is fairly one-dimensional, the show does a great job reminding viewers of the importance of cultivating their curiosity and learning from it.
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What's the story?
It's the start of another school year, and students eagerly await the return of their eccentric teacher, Miss Frizzle (voiced by Lily Tomlin). Imagine their surprise when it's a different Frizz -- her younger sister, Ms. Fiona Felicity Frizzle (Kate McKinnon) -- who shows up instead in THE MAGIC SCHOOL BUS RIDES AGAIN! With Miss Frizzle embarking on fact-finding journeys across the globe, she hands over the keys to the Magic School Bus to her little sis and bids the class well on their new endeavors. So begins a new chapter in the adventures of the world's greatest field trip vehicle, which can transform into any shape and transport its riders anywhere they want to go.
Is it any good?
Science class has never been as fun as it is under the direction of Ms. Frizzle, who's every bit as enthusiastic and quirky as her big sister. With her at the helm, the class delights in getting up close and personal with all different aspects of the natural world, from broad ecosystems to the smallest inhabitants of remote islands. Not only does the bus adapt and transform to the needs of the day, but Ms. Frizzle also has the ability to change the kids' sizes and shapes, which creates some comical scenarios and a unique perspective for viewers to learn.
The Magic School Bus Rides Again doesn't mess too much with a good thing, and kids who have watched the '90s series will appreciate the generally consistent cast and overall style of the show. The new kid in class -- Jyoti (Birva Pandya) -- reflects the show's commitment to continued diversity, and its gender balance among the STEM-interested students is another plus.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the STEM topic explored in each episode of The Magic School Bus Rides Again. Was it a new one to you? What examples of it do you see around where you live? How could you explore it yourself?
How does Ms. Frizzle encourage her students to experiment and learn? How do they respond when they make mistakes? How do mistakes help us learn? What kinds of topics are you most curious about? Why is curiosity an important character strength?
Another theme in this series is adapting to new experiences and situations. Is this something you do easily, or is change hard for you? What evidence of adaptation do you see in the natural world?
- Premiere date: September 29, 2017
- Cast: Kate McKinnon, Miles Koseleci-Vieira, Birva Pandya
- Network: Netflix
- Genre: Kids' Animation
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Book Characters, Science and Nature
- Character strengths: Curiosity
- TV rating: NR
- Available on: Streaming
- Award: Common Sense Selection
- Last updated: January 8, 2021
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