Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
For those kids who want to know more about the author of the "Magic School Bus" series, this short autobiography is just the ticket. It is an amusing ride, liberally illustrated with art from many of Cole's books. She describes how her series got started, how she collaborates with Bruce Degen, and even shows readers how she develops an idea into a book. A science writer with a sense of humor, Cole and this book are winners.
School Library Journal
Gr 2-6In these welcome well-designed titles, longer and slightly more challenging than those in the "Meet the Author" series (Richard C. Owen), two popular creators of children's books show how they do what they do. Cole traces her passion for informational writing to her love of a well-reasoned argument honed at her family's dinner table while growing up. She talks about why she writes, how she gets and develops ideas, and tells the story behind the creation of "The Magic School Bus" series (Scholastic), illustrated by Bruce Degen. This attractive title is chock-full of colorful pictures, by various artists, from Cole's many books, as well as photographs of family and colleagues. McPhail explains his need to write in some place other than home, how he and his editors negotiate ideas, and the steps involved in illustrating a book. A page from his drawing book, a dummy from The Magical Adventures of Moony B. Finch and thumb-nail sketches show children, his thought processes and preparation for a book. Many original black-line, watercolor pictures of his familiar bears and pigs decorate the pages as well. Both Cole and McPhail emphasize the need for revision and getting things right, often in collaboration with others. They obviously love their work. These excellent and very personal titles support many areas of the elementary curriculum and lend enthusiastic encouragement to anyone interested in the creation of children's books.Susan Hepler, Alexandria City Public Schools, VA
A grand autobiography in the Creative Sparks series that is both accessible and entertaining. Cole, who has created so many funny characters (such as those found in her Magic School Bus series) is good company in her own right.
Cole begins by talking about her father, a dyslexic who had trouble reading but loved to talk and debate; he imparted to her a sense of wonder and deep gratitude for the ability to read. Readers get a real sense of the person behind the books and are also introduced to the process of writing: Cole talks about the similarity between preparing a report and a book and explains that she begins by reading and absorbing information long before she plans what to say or prepares an outline. As with her books, the points are made through her enthusiasm for sharing information rather than as lessons. It is fun to be behind the scenes with the Magic School Bus books, too. The illustrations are primarily from Cole's books, but there are also photographs of her and the people with whom she works. A book as appealing as any Cole has written, good for recreational readers and report-writers alike.