The literary world has lost one of its brightest talents as veteran author Joanna Cole has reportedly passed away. With nearly 250 credits to her name, Cole is perhaps best known for writing The Magic School Bus book series which have provided entertainment to young readers for the past several decades. According to a new report, Cole died on July 12, but the cause of death has not yet been revealed. She was 75 years old.
"What Joanna has meant to the world, what there is in the world because of her, is well known," said Bruce Degen, The Magic School Bus illustrator, after learning of the sad news. "What she meant to me I can't describe. Everyone who knew her, worked with her, loved her, knows what a loss it is."
A native of Newark, New Jersey, Joanna Cole was born on Aug. 11, 1944. With a teacher that would inspire the iconic Ms. Frizzle character featured in The Magic School Bus, Cole took an early interest in science as a child. She'd later graduate from City College of New York with a B.A. in psychology, following up with a job working as a librarian for an elementary school in Brooklyn. By 1980, she had begun writing children's books and magazine articles with some of her work printed in Parents magazine. Her very first book, Cockroaches, was published in 1971.
The Magic School Bus was first published in 1986, and the resulting success would make Cole one of the most successful children's book authors of all time. Based on her experience writing about science and humor, Cole was approached directly by Scholastic to pen a new children's book combining science with fictional stories with artist Bruce Degen illustrating the artwork. After the success of the first book, The Magic School Bus at the Waterworks, many more installments would quickly come, each book delving into a scientific fact by way of a magical field trip led by the elementary school teacher Ms. Frizzle. The latest book in the series, The Magic School Bus Explores Human Evolution, will be published this year.
The popular book series grew to become even more beloved when it was adapted as a children's cartoon series in 1994. The animated Ms. Frizzle was voiced by Lily Tomlin for the series, with each episode similarly exploring different scientific themes. The books and cartoon would inspire many official video games to follow in years after, with Netflix rebooting the cartoon show with Tomlin reprising the voice role in 2017. Just recently, it was also announced that Universal Pictures and Scholastic will be teaming up to develop a live-action/animation hybrid movie adaptation of The Magic School Bus with Elizabeth Banks producing and starring in the lead role as the live-action Ms. Frizzle.
Cole's survivors include her husband, Phil; daughter, Rachel Cole; son-in-law, John Helms; grandchildren, Annabelle and William; and a sister, Virginia McBride. We offer our deepest condolences to the family in the wake of the devastating news. Cole may no longer be with us, but the work she accomplished during her legendary career will ensure the author will forever be remembered, and we thank her for all of her contributions. May she rest in peace. This news comes to us from The Hollywood Reporter.