The Magic School Bus

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Just curious.

What would you classify The Magic School Bus series?

Fact?

Fiction?

My youngest daughter and a favorite library book: Great facts about bees!

My youngest daughter and a favorite library book: Great facts about bees!

Creative non-fiction?

If you haven’t seen The Magic School Bus yet, it is a great series of books (and show on PBS) that teaches science to children in way that is completely accessible. My kids love this series. The book on bees is right up our alley.

One out of three hive boxes, now full. The bees have moved on to the second box, which is below this one.

One of our three hive boxes, now full. The bees have moved on to the second box, which is below this one.

I can’t speak to the science in all of the books in the series, but I can tell you that the details about bees and beekeeping are spot-on. Plus, The Magic School Bus series has always been a winner at my house: My kids read and re-read this series all the time. Kudos to the authors and editors for making science interesting and entertaining!

The Magic School Bus is a great example of creative nonfiction, in my opinion.

She's read this book three times already. We checked it out from the library yesterday.

We checked it out from the library yesterday, and she’s on her third read-though. She says it gets better with use!

I suppose you are wondering where I’m going with this.

You’re going to think this is nuts.

Technically, Emmett’s book is a biography. But really, it will be creative nonfiction. Just like The Magic School Bus, but without Miss Frizzle as the narrator.

Good advice from The Frizz. Source: Twitter.com

Good advice from The Frizz. Source: Twitter.com

I think a true biography requires the subject’s own words and thoughts of significance, somewhere. How can you tell the story of a person, comprehensively, without that person’s involvement, if you see what I mean?

You can, of course, tell the story. You have to be careful, though; there’s a very fine line between creative nonfiction and historical fiction, and I’ll be damned if I cross that one with Emmett’s bio.

Getting ‘creative’ in telling this story means conjecture. I cannot get around the fact that I will need to fill in the gaps in his story, extrapolating from two years’ of gathered articles, documents, photographs, certificates, genealogies, and so forth. Others who knew Emmett in person have spoken about Emmett in articles, for instance. At this point, I feel comfortable in building a bridge from point A to point B in Emmett’s story.

Source: LATimes.com

Source: LATimes.com

However, in building that bridge, I will not pull a Brian Williams on anyone. I wasn’t there. I’m not going to pretend that I was. That’s where a heavy preface and documentation of the facts will serve you nicely. Also — make no doubt — I’ll TELL you when it is conjecture, and keep the conjecting to a minimum.

 

I’ll admit here that I’m afraid of screwing that part up. Emmett’s life was real, not fiction. Treading the line between creative nonfiction and historical fiction seems daunting. Doable, though, with careful documentation.

As The Frizz says, you have to take chances, get messy.

But not with the facts.

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