[Book Review] The Truth About Bats (The Magic School Bus Chapter Books, #1) by Eva Moore


My name is Ralphie. I am one of the kids in Ms. Frizzle's class. Maybe you've heard of Ms. Frizzle. She takes us on lots of field trips in the Magic School Bus. We never know what's going to happen when we get on that bus, but we do know that we'll learn about Ms. Frizzle's favorite subject--science!

Once, Ms. Frizzle took us all over the U.S. looking for bats. We thought she was batty! But then we found out some really amazing things about bats, like what they eat, where they live, how echolocation works, and lots more bat facts and bat myths. In this book, I tell you everything that happened on that trip, the time we learned The Truth About Bats.

I was raised on Magic School Bus. I regret to say I never really got into the books as a child, but I adored the television show, and I unashamedly credit it with fostering my love of education, knowledge, and science. I cannot possibly recommend the Magic School Bus television show enough; it vastly enriches the life of any child who watches it.

These books, though, are neither the original Magic School Bus picture book series by Joanna Cole nor adaptations of the television episodes. Instead, they're a whole new series of Magic School Bus chapter books meant to capitalize on the success of the series, and while I think that, for the most part, they do a good job of educating their readers... they lack the magic of the franchise. Some of them seem to outright miss the point.

The Truth About Bats, the first book in the series, is quite likely the best. I purchased a copy--well, my mother purchased a copy--from Scholastic when I still in elementary school (probably around 2000), and I loved it. After I read it that summer, I went out of my way to spend time outside after sunset to watch for bats in my backyard. I had been interested in bats since the Magic School Bus television episode, Going Batty. It was scary as shit to my pre-school brain, and I loved it.

I've since lost my copy of the book, unfortunately. I hope I still have it somewhere, buried beneath the other hundreds of books I haven't been able to resist the urge to purchase... but it probably disappeared for good during the years in which my parents (*cough* my father *cough*) threw out encouraged me to dispose of most of my childhood toys, books, and VHS tapes. Alas.

In any case, it's an entertaining story starring Ralphie (from the television show) as the point-of-view character during a field trip to Yosemite to see the endangered spotted bat. It doesn't quite have the charm of the show (how could it, without Lily Tomlin!?), but it's fun nonetheless and filled to the brim with facts and tidbits about bats of all shapes and sizes.

If you check this book out for your children or students, I highly recommend complementing it with Bats (Magic School Bus Fact Finders, #1) by Kris Hirschmann and a viewing of Going Batty. Both are awesome--especially the episode--though Going Batty, which involves the children becoming convinced that Ms. Frizzle is trying to turn their parents into vampires, might be a bit too much for children who are particularly easily frightened.

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