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By Noel Perrin

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Both of them are gentle and peace-loving. When it's finally quiet again, and they come out, only Page 10 one kitten is left; the rest have performed the anatomical impossibility of all eating each other. The old couple is happy with the one kitten left. The ending doesn't feel bloody, though, and that's because it's obvious to a child from the very first wonderful drawing that these are not flesh-and-blood cats, or people, either. Everything is stylized, symmetrical, incantatoryand almost perfectly timeless.

Frizzle's lesson plan (Janet takes over as teacher for the outer planets), and also the manual for the autopilot. Everyone, including Ms. Frizzle, gets safely back to earth, and no Page 13 one's family believes them when they tell about their day. There had been a trip scheduled, all right, but it was only to the planetarium, not to space. This is a bare-bones account of an irresistible book called The Magic School Bus, Lost in the Solar System. The words, written by Joanna Cole, are every one of them just right.

The longest of the student themes runs to thirty-seven words, and the average length is closer to twenty. But the fact is that the three media work together to produce a complex and entertaining account of the solar system, a sort of verbal orrery. Enough bites of the right kind make a meal. One final objection. What's this magic doing in a book that is supposed to describe the solar system scientifically? Must we pander that much to the popular mind? Surely the science will get contaminated. In theory and sometimes in fact I'd say yes, it will indeed.

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