'Magic School Bus' Author Joanna Cole Dead at 75

Best-selling author Joanna Cole, best known for The Magic School Bus children's book series, has died at the age of 75. Her death was first announced by The Hollywood Reporter, although no formal cause has been revealed.

"Joanna Cole had the perfect touch for blending science and story," said Dick Robinson, Chairman, President and CEO, Scholastic. "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." Cole's Magic School Bus series kicked off back in 1986 and told the story of Ms. Frizzle, a teacher who takes her students on virtual bus rides to learn about the wonders of science. The series' illustrator, Bruce Degen, also issued a statement about Cole's passing.

"We met in 1984 in the office of the much-missed Craig Walker, the brilliant editor who asked us to work together," Degen wrote. "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 MSB. 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." Degen closed by writing that "everyone who knew her, worked with her, loved her, knows what a loss it is.

There were 13 Magic School Bus titles published, not counting the dozens of various tie-ins. The series has sold more than 93 million copies and has won scores of awards, including the NEA Foundation Award for Outstanding Service to Public Education.

Just a month before Cole's passing, Elizabeth Banks was cast to star as Ms. Frizzle in a new feature film adaptation, following in the footsteps of Lily Tomlin, who voiced Ms. Frizzle in two recent small screen shows. The next incarnation of The Magic School Bus will be a live-action/CGI hybrid with Banks producing along with starring. Scholastic Entertainment's Iole Lucchese told Collider that they were "delighted to bring to life the iconic Ms. Frizzle and her zest for knowledge and adventure in a fresh new way that inspires the next generation of kids to explore science and supports the dedicated teachers who help make science real and accessible for young learners every day."