Drawing Children’s Book Characters In My Style: Magic School Bus Edition

Hello everyone, and I’m back with a new round of the Drawing Children’s Book Characters In My Style series. This time, I am going on a new field trip (sorry, Arnold) and tackling the supporting cast of The Magic School Bus in celebration of the anniversary of the first book in the series, At the Waterworks.


At first, I was going to release this post to coincide with the release of the third season of The Magic School Bus Rides Again, or when the show got officially cancelled. Well, as it stands, it’s been over a year since the release of the second season, so there definitely won’t be a third season at this point. And it seems that even Netflix forgot the show existed, because there has still been no word on a cancellation. So, since I can’t take this wait anymore, I’ve decided to release this post already given this long break I’m taking from the blog, and whatever happens with Rides Again happens.

In other news, while I’ve been on my break, I finally decided to check out the renovated Scholastic headquarters at 130 Mercer Street. And I’m sad to report that you may disregard what I said earlier about visiting the Scholastic Store. It turns out that they decided to close down the store with the renovation, making it solely a business building. I won’t judge them for the change as they had their reasons, but it’s still a shame. It really was the coolest thing ever, and it was a pretty memorable part of my childhood. I can only imagine how many of today’s kids will miss out on a store whose childlike character left such an impression on me, and I wish I visited it more often before they closed it. I’m slightly happier to report that there is a Hunger Games poster to the right of the lobby, and a cool Captain Underpants statue above the stairs to the left of the poster. This means that the offices still have their childlike spirit, so that’s cool to see.

Gone, but not forgotten.

Now, before I start this round, I would like to make it clear that as far as I’m concerned, the Rides Again versions of the characters never existed, and we’re going to keep things book accurate and original series accurate here. So there’s that.

Anyway, here are the usual rules before I begin:

  • I’m only doing children’s book characters – meaning characters featured in books intended for audiences up to 12 years of age. Even if a character first appeared in another medium such as a comic strip or a game, I will still consider the character to be a children’s book character.
  • I’ll usually do ten characters per round, though I might do more or less depending on what I’m feeling up to doing or how much time I have on my hands. If multiple characters are often associated together (i.e., Jack and Annie from Magic Tree House), I will consider them as one character for the round (featured in the same image).
  • Since there are characters I will probably end up ignoring/not acknowledging, I’m open to requests to do these characters, as long as they are children’s book characters. I might also consider some young adult characters depending on the property.
  • Some characters have styles that are specifically distinct from mine, so some characters will look more differently in my versions than others. Depending on how distinct the style of a certain character is from mine, I may ignore that character on purpose, unless requests entice me to challenge myself.
  • Although I am creating a new interpretation of these characters, I will try to maintain the essence of their original designs, if there are certain features about them that in my style wouldn’t look the same. For example, I generally don’t give my characters dots for eyes, but if I am drawing a character with this trait, I will simply make the irises bigger.
  • As usual, if you wish to share my work, you may do so for as long as you credit me. If you wish to use my work in any way, feel free to either comment or send a contact form on the Contact page.

And so let Magic School Bus Edition begin!

Arnold Perlstein, The Magic School Bus

And why shouldn’t we begin this round with the most famous classmate of all? The classmates of The Magic School Bus are great characters in terms of the diversity of their personalities, and with this round, I really wanted to show that in my renditions of the classmates. For Arnold, I wanted to evoke his insecurity and fear of Ms. Frizzle’s field trips, particularly when he has just heard the announcement of a new one. I also wanted to make his hair blond like the books, compared to his red hair in the television series (and especially not that horrendous Rides Again red). I’m sure he wished he didn’t visit this blog today!

Wanda Li, The Magic School Bus

Okay, so if you have a particularly keen eye as to what’s happening here, yes, I decided to order the characters in this round accordingly to the most popular fan shippings between them. I haven’t really delved into the fan shipping stuff before, so there’s some trivia for you today. But anyway, I knew that I had to put Wanda in a pose that showed just how excited and determined she was to take on Valerie’s field trips. The trick was to simply make her pose everything Arnold’s pose wasn’t. And of course, I also put care in making sure she was the shortest classmate (yes Rides Again, I’m looking at you again).

Keesha Franklin, The Magic School Bus

For Keesha, I had fun giving her one of those facial expressions that she makes when she thinks she is so sure of herself or has an argument in the bag. This facial expression then served as the basis for the rest of her pose. The original series was great with facial expressions in general, but Keesha took the cake when it came to some of the best ones. To see what I mean, just check out some images of her on the show compared to the other classmates. Her personality doesn’t make her a top favorite, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the drawing process.

Ralphie Tennelli, The Magic School Bus

The first thing I thought of when I thought of a pose for Ralphie was when he runs toward the bus at the end of the original series intro. It’s just so wonderfully animated in how he practically bounces toward the thing, you got to love it (yes Rides Again, that’s strike three). I also based that scene off his drawing due to Ralphie being an athlete, so running is certainly nothing new to him. And of course, I had to make sure that he was as cheerful as Ralphie can be.

Carlos Ramon, The Magic School Bus

The idea for Carlos’s pose didn’t immediately come to me, because I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do with him at first. Then I decided to make it look as if he just started laughing at a particularly good (or bad) pun of his that the class may or may not approve of. The lower eyelids were a key aspect of translating this, which was an interesting part to draw among the drawings in this round.

Dorothy Ann Hudson, The Magic School Bus

I knew that with Dorothy Ann, she would have to be looking into her books more than anything else. There’s also the tablet, but I’d rather not get into sensitive territory. According to my research for this drawing, 🤓 she isn’t always depicted with her bag, so I also added her bag of books as well. And of course, you got to keep those pigtails up, right, “Goes on Air”? Right, Rides Again? (okay, I won’t bash you as bad for that one).

Phoebe Terese, The Magic School Bus

If you’ve read my previous Magic School Bus posts, then you’re already aware that Phoebe is my personal favorite classmate. So as soon as you saw this post and recalled this, I’m sure that you were putting two-and-two together, and that I was going to be having a lot of fun with this one. And well, it wasn’t as fun as I had hoped, but I still like how she turned out. I knew that in order to do Phoebe justice, I had to make her look as innocent and cute as possible, and even evoke a touch of shyness to her. Scholastic may pretend she doesn’t exist now, but that’s not going to stop people like me from giving her the love she deserves and will always deserve. 🙂

Tim Wright, The Magic School Bus

Fittingly, we conclude this round with who is without a doubt the least developed classmate, even if I still kind of like Tim. I also think he is the only classmate that improved in Rides Again, even if I think they bombed his hair and much of his outfit. Though I figured that if I was going to make Tim worth viewing, I knew I had to add an additional element to his drawing. And what better element would that be than his camera? As for his pose, I purposely made it a bit bland to reflect him being an introvert, but still showed it in his face how he was still open to conversation.

Well, I said back in Round One how Ms. Frizzle states to get out there and explore, and I can’t say that I didn’t do so. As usual, if there are any other Magic School Bus characters that you want me to draw, I won’t mind requests to draw them. As for the next round? Well, we’ll have to see what comes of the next major event in the world of children’s literature. Depending on the property that event is focusing on, the supporting characters of that property will be the next to get my art style treatment.

Until Rides Again’s fate is decided, folks. 👩‍🏫


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