cover image On the Ocean Floor

On the Ocean Floor

Joanna Cole. Scholastic Inc., $15.95 (48pp) ISBN 978-0-590-41430-2

In her zany approach to science, Ms. Frizzle literally immerses her students in a sea of knowledge. Expecting a normal, end-of-the-year beach day, the class is shocked when ``the Friz'' drives the school bus through the parking lot, over the beach (with a quick lecture on the intertidal zone), and into the ocean depths. During this fanciful yet scientifically accurate romp, the bus appropriately metamorphoses into a submarine, a submersible, a glass-bottom boat, and--in a final flourish--a titanic surfboard. All the while, Ms. Frizzle's students (and Cole's readers) experience the wet wonders of potentially dry textbook subjects: where sand comes from, why oceans are salty, how fish breathe, the ``not-fish'' sea animals, underwater food chains, life in hot water vents and coral reefs. Weighty information is buoyantly supported by energetic, cartoony illustrations with bubbles of comical true-to-life kid-talk. Elementary readers will giggle at the side-story of Lenny, a lifeguard suffering delusions of heroism. Cole and Degen continue to hone their unique mix of humor, fact and sound teaching techniques. Like others in the series, this book will capture readers at school and at home. Ages 6-9. (Sept.)