It had been hot and humid all week and none of the students in Ms. Frizzle’s class could take it anymore. Phoebe was sitting in front of the fan, moving her head back and forth to follow the breeze, and Tim was collapsed in his chair with an ice cube pressed to his forehead. On the window sill, Liz rubbed sun screen on her horn, threw on a pair of shades, and laid back in the sun.
“It hasn’t been this hot since… well, forever!” said Tim.
“At my old school, we had central air in every room. Even the bathrooms!” said Phoebe.
“I guess you could say you were feeling pretty cool on the stool!” said Carlos, grinning wide as streams of sweat rerouted towards his mouth.
“Carlos!” the kids all said in unison.
The door burst open and Ralphie came running in holding a thick, leather-bound book over his head. “Guys! Guys! You’ll never guess what I’ve found!”
“What is it, Ralphie?” asked Phoebe.
“I woke up late and was getting dressed, but I couldn’t find any shorts! I tore through my closet and still didn’t find anything, so I thought ‘Maybe dad’s got a pair,’ so I went into his closet and started rooting around. It was all good news!”
“Get to the point, Ralphie,” Wanda said.
“First, I found my dad’s shorts,” Ralphie gestured down to the enormous, wrinkled shorts held to his body with a belt that was also several sizes too big, “and, waaayyy in the back of the closet, I found this book!”
The kids gathered around to take a closer look. In Ralphie’s hands was an old tome wrapped in a material that was as dense as it was impenetrable; no light, not even the classroom’s florescent bulbs directly overhead, reflected off its surface. On the cover was a strange emblem with tiny, curious symbols etched around the edge. Keesha asked, “What does it say?”
Dorothy Ann leaned in as close as she could. “This doesn’t look like any language I’ve ever seen!” she said, eyebrows raising.
“I don’t know what it is either, but I was looking through the pages and they’re full of spells! And look, there’s even a spell here to make a whole room as cold as an ice box!”
“Compared to this,” Tim said, his last ice cube melting in his hand, “I’d be happy with a cool breeze!”
The classroom door flung open again and, in a swirl of dazzling sparkles, their teacher appeared. “There’s always a way to beat the heat, if you know where to look!”
“Ms. Frizzle!” the whole class shouted.
“Hello, class!” She beamed as she walked towards the group. “And what do we have here? A magic solution to this heat pollution?” She giggled to herself as Ralphie handed her the book.
“Yeah, I think we can use it to cool off!” he said, excitedly waving his arms.
“H-how is that… book going to cool us off?” Arnold asked, edging away from the group.
Ms. Frizzle laughed again. “Oh, children, it won’t!”
Ralphie’s arms dropped to his sides. “But… but the book says-”
“Ah, I know what it says Ralphie, but I also know that it’s all a bunch of,” she spread her arms wide, “MUMBO JUMBOOO!” She clapped and a small explosion of bright, colorful sparkles filled the air above her, crackling pleasantly down on her shoulders.
The children stared in silence for a moment before Phoebe asked, “But Ms. Frizzle! How can it be ‘mumbo jumbo’ if we see you do magic all the time? What do you call what you do?”
“Well, as I always say: Why tell when you can show? To the bus, class!”
The students all cheered, except for Arnold. “The bus? Is this another field trip?”
“What else could it be?” Ms. Frizzle responded with a wink.
“But where could we possibly be going? Merlin’s tower!?”
“Oh, dear, no! I’ve already told you that magic is all just a bunch of phony bologna! Those claiming to be ‘magicians’ are all liars and cheats! Complete fools!” Her expression grew colder. “They know nothing of what they tempt, Arnold. They’re crossing bridges that were never meant to support their weight.” She stared at Arnold for a moment while he shifted from foot to foot in silence. “So! Onto the bus!” She shooed him away and called to Liz, who was sleeping in the window. In one quick motion, she jumped onto Ms. Frizzle’s shoulders and tossed her sunglasses into an open drawer, which shut from the force. Ms. Frizzle gave a laugh and they were out the door.
On the bus, the kids guessed about where they could be going. “King Arthur’s court?” one wondered. “Santa’s Workshop!” said another. “The Mariana Trench! Area 51! That warehouse from Indiana Jones where they keep the Ark of the Covenant!”
Arnold plodded up the stairs and muttered to himself, “Maybe I should have stayed home today.”
Right behind him, Ms. Frizzle jumped aboard and into the driver’s seat. “Seatbelts, everyone!”
“But where are we going?”
Ms. Frizzle coughed a small laugh and looked out the window. “Somewhere I have not been in a very long time.” Liz scrambled under the driver’s seat and covered her eyes, teeth chattering. “Oh Liz, it won’t be all that bad! We’re just… visiting an old acquaintance.”