Joanna Cole, who wrote more than 250 children's books but is best known for the creation of The Magic School Bus, has passed away. She was 75. Cole, whose books have sold close to 100 million copies, passed away on July 12, according to The Hollywood Reporter. At this stage, her cause of death is unknown. The Magic School Bus was adapted into an animated series that ran for 18 years. She created the series with illustrator Bruce Degen in 1986, and besides that initial, groundbreaking animated series, it went on to have a recent revival at Netflix. Last month, a live-action film starring Elizabeth Banks was announced.
Cole and Degen published their series through Scholastic and, like many popular children's series, it had a core of titles created by the pair and then dozens of tie-in and spinoff books related to the animated series, or to simplifying books by Cole and Degen for younger readers. The result, in addition to over 90 million copies sold, is that the property had an impact on millions of children over a couple of generations at this point.
"Joanna Cole had the perfect touch for blending science and story," said Dick Robinson, Chairman, President and CEO, Scholastic, who publishes The Magic School Bus series. "Joanna’s books, packed with equal parts humor and information, made science both easy to understand and fun for the hundreds of millions of children around the world who read her books and watched the award-winning television series."
"We met in 1984 in the office of the much missed Craig Walker, the brilliant editor who asked us to work together," Degen told THR. "We did not know each other. In the world of children's books it is not often necessary for illustrator and writer to actually meet, but there were conundrums with [Magic School Bus]. Every page was so complicated we had to make decisions: how to make it work. Could it work? And we did. Together. And we became friends. What Joanna has meant to the world, what there is in the world because of her, is well known. What she meant to me I can’t describe. Everyone who knew her, worked with her, loved her, knows what a loss it is."
"In my science books, including The Magic School Bus books, I write about ideas, rather than just the facts," Cole once said. "I try to ask a question, such as how do scientists guess what dinosaurs were like? Then I try to answer the question as I write the book."
Our thoughts go out to Cole's family and friends at this difficult time.