search-icon

Fuel Your Inner Ms. Frizzle with These Inquisitive Literary Heroines

by  | August 7
Reading When We Were Vikings

For many kids, including me, The Magic School Bus books and TV show fueled our imagination and curiosity, entertaining us while also helping us learn all about the world. Even just thinking about the awesome bat episode (a good signal that I was destined to become a horror fan in the future) or the space episode where Arnold takes off his helmet (such drama!) makes me feel nostalgic for the days when I could tune in to the adventures of the best science class ever. With the sad passing of the books’ author, Joanna Cole, and the upcoming live-action film where Elizabeth Banks will play everyone’s favorite science teacher, it’s a good time to revive that inquisitive spirit. So let’s take chances, make mistakes, and dive right into these five reads, which will fuel your inner Ms. Frizzle.

Why Fish Don't Exist

Why Fish Don't Exist

by Lulu Miller

I know, the title totally throws me off too. Fish absolutely do exist—otherwise, what have I been eating in my sushi all these years? Invisibilia host Lulu Miller’s book isn’t about the non-existence of our water-bound friends. She explores the life and work of David Starr Jordan, a taxonomist credited with discovering a fifth of all fish known to us during his lifetime. Even after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake destroyed his specimens, Starr worked to rebuild his collection and continue his mission of categorizing all the species he could find. Miller was struck by this story, and how it dealt with love, loss, and order. Even as she researches and finds deeper layers to the innovative, dedicated man of science the initial story makes Starr out to be, Why Fish Don’t Exist draws you into a world you might’ve never known you could care so much about and includes life lessons along the way. Rolling science into lessons about life is exactly Ms. Frizzle’s MO, making it the perfect read for grown-up fans of the series.

Amazon logoBarnes & Noble logoBooks a Million logoIndiebound logoBookshop logo
When We Were Vikings

When We Were Vikings

by Andrew David MacDonald

If Ms. Frizzle has taught us anything, it’s that normal is overrated. Why have a regular old field trip when you can travel into the human body, or into the void of space? And for Zelda in When We Were Vikings, why strive to be normal when you can instead be a legendary Viking? She’s already different from others, due to fetal alcohol syndrome, and her obsession with Vikings gives her something to strive toward in a world that treats her as lesser. When her brother, Gert, gets mixed up with dangerous drug dealers to pay their bills, Zelda steps up to take on the world and save her family. The book shines a light on many issues facing those with cognitive disabilities, including their self-awareness of how they are seen by the world as they go about pursuing life, love, and independence. A thrilling and heartfelt story all about taking chances, making mistakes, and getting messy when it really counts.

Amazon logoBarnes & Noble logoBooks a Million logoIndiebound logoBookshop logo
Lab Girl

Lab Girl

by Hope Jahren

As a citizen scientist and educator, Ms. Frizzle’s mission has always been about making science accessible. Hope Jahren’s memoir, Lab Girl, does just that by giving us an inside look into how she came to science, and the many adventures she has had as she’s studied trees, plants, and all manner of greenery. Jahren had always been fascinated by science, playing in her father’s classroom lab when she was a kid. From there, all it took was getting her Ph.D. and she was out exploring with her lab partner/best friend, Bill. The book provides a different perspective on science than The Magic School Bus—rather than presenting and exploring what is known, Jahren chronicles what it’s like to be making breakthrough discoveries. The thrills and disappointments, the chase of getting specimens, the hard work that goes into pushing the horizons of human knowledge. I can definitely imagine Ms. Frizzle recommending this exhilarating book to students looking to make science their life’s work.

Amazon logoBarnes & Noble logoBooks a Million logoIndiebound logoBookshop logo
The Visibles

The Visibles

by Sara Shepard

Genetics are the foundation of who we are, a topic that Netflix’s reboot The Magic School Bus Rides Again tackles in its second season. There’s a lot that goes into our genetic code, and that’s what The Visibles’s main character, Summer Davis, can’t help but dig into. Her father suffers from depression, her aloof mother abandons her family, and her brother is anything but consistent. Summer wonders if it’s in her DNA to follow her family’s patterns, especially as she leaves behind a bright future in science to take care of her eccentric great-aunt Stella. Exploring how science can serve as a pathway into better personal understanding, author Sara Shepard builds a narrative that mixes the intellectual and the emotional, reminding readers that even with how much we know about our makeup at the molecular level, we can always manage to surprise others…and ourselves.

Amazon logoBarnes & Noble logoBooks a Million logoIndiebound logoBookshop logo
The Calculating Stars

The Calculating Stars

by Mary Robinette Kowal

What’s better than one amazing science woman? A whole squad of amazing STEM women! In an alternate version of history, a meteorite destroys the East Coast of the United States in the 1950s, spurring the space race. Pilot and mathematician Elma York joins the International Aerospace Coalition in order to get humanity to the stars, but all the efforts are focused on getting men into space, not women. With that, Elma’s mission pivots to the goal of becoming the first woman to leave the stratosphere, with the help of the amazing women she works with. The Calculating Stars often feels like a historical record, written to make it seem like you’re actually reading the record of the first woman to make it to space. And although it tells an alternate reality, it also grounds itself in our reality, focusing on the systemic issues that limited the movements of women, BIPOC, and others, and never relies on unnecessary drama to create a compelling and empowering story.

Amazon logoBarnes & Noble logoBooks a Million logoIndiebound logoBookshop logo
Love to get lit... erary? Sign up to get the latest delivered to your inbox!
A reporter by trade, Sara Roncero-Menendez is a lover of horror, sci-fi, and all things pop culture. From indies to classics to even the strangest genre pieces, all movies, TV shows, and books are fair game for a binge-fest. Follow her on Twitter @sararomenen or at her website, www.sara-roncero-menendez.com