Written by Jill Nossa
Janice Dean has been making the rounds promoting her latest book, Freddy the Frogcaster and the Big Blizzard, during a season of blizzards. On Jan. 21, just several days before Juno hit the area, she held a presentation at Bayville Primary School and on Feb. 4, she will be at Ann MacArthur Primary School in Locust Valley. The Fox News meteorologist from Floral Park is excited to combine her knowledge of weather with her passion for making it relatable to kids.
“This is one of my biggest and most rewarding achievements,” says Dean of her book series, the third of which will be out this summer. “People don’t realize how much interest kids have in the weather.”
The books teach kids about science and encourage them to look into STEM; the primary focus of the books, as taught by the main character, Freddy the Frog, is to be prepared in advance of a storm.
The back of the book also has a glossary of weather-related terms and a checklist so that kids can have a better idea of what to expect during storms and help out with their family’s preparations.
“It’s getting kids thinking about being proactive,” notes Dean, who adds that many teachers are using the books as way to kick off their weather studies.
Dean says she had the idea for the book before her kids were born, as friends would ask her for recommendations on books about weather for their own children.
“What I found was that most were either simple or complex, but there wasn’t much in between,” says Dean.
She herself says she became interested in weather as a child. Growing up in Canada, she experienced plenty of snow storms, and recalls an ice storm that shut down her city of Toronto. The storm itself impacted her, but she also remembers how the community would come together to help each other out in times of crisis. This sparked her interest and curiosity in weather, though she went into broadcast and journalism and was a news reporter before becoming a meteorologist.
Dorothy McManus, assistant principal at Bayville Elementary School, says they connected with Dean through some of the student’s parents who have relatives that also work at Fox News. She said the school’s librarian, Stefanie Lipsey, spent some time with the students reading Freddy the Frogcaster and the Big Blizzard and discussing what a meteorologist does and how they help people.
“The children were very excited for the visit,” says McManus. “Janice was wonderful. She taught the children all about her job as a weather forecaster and about how she decided to write a child’s book and created Freddy. She was wonderful with the children. They loved her.”
In her presentation, Dean talks about snowflakes and blizzards and will be discussing hurricanes with her next book, which kids may also find hits to close to home if they remember Hurricane Sandy.
“Even after an hour-long presentation, the kids are lining up with questions for me,” she says. “I didn’t realize how excited and intuitive kids are about the weather.”
The series is published by Washington, DC-based Regnery Kids and is available at www.regnery.com, where activities also be downloaded.