WILD & WONDERFUL WEDNESDAY: Freddy the Frogcaster and the Terrible Tornado by Janice Dean


Get ready for a whirlwind of adventure with Freddy the Frogcaster when a famous storm chaser visits Lilypad!

In her fourth book, well-known meteorologist Janice Dean tackles some scary weather. Freddy the Frogcaster is faced with one of the most ferocious and devastating kinds of weather: the tornado.

Young readers will learn all about how big storms occur and produce some of nature's most destructive weather. Chock-full of storm science lessons in the back, children and adults alike will learn valuable life-saving information.

As Freddy reminds us, please be prepared and know what to do and where to go when the next bad storm comes your way!


Freddy helps his town get ready more nasty weather by working with the local weather station.  This time around it looks like some oncoming thunderstorms could produce a tornado or two. But this time, he might get to see the storm up close, when Tad the stormchaser shows up to take a look.  One of the things that I really like about the Freddy books is that not only is their a fun story, but lots of background information is included at the back for those young readers who want to know more.  These books also make a great introduction for talking about emergency weather preparations.  Cox's illustrations are fun and add greatly to the fun of this series.


Known as "Janice Dean the Weather Machine," Dean serves as the lead meteorologist on Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network.  Throughout her 12 years with Fox, she has covered many extreme weather events, including Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Hurricane Sandy in 2012, and the EF-5 tornado that struct Joplin, Missouri, in 2011.  Dean enjoys sharing her extensive scientific knowledge, and the inspiration that led to her passion for weather, with kids and adults alike.

INTERVIEW with Janice Dean

*What led you to start writing for children?

The idea for the Freddy the Frogcaster series came from friends and family members who were looking for recommendations for children’s weather books.  After doing some research, I felt like there was a need for more of them, so I jumped in!  I was so fortunate to find Russ Cox my illustrator who is one of the best in the business.  I could never have imagined how beautifully he captures Freddy’s world of weather.  It took me a long time from the idea of writing a book to actually getting one published.  I had to go through many drafts and several publishers to find the right fit who really believed in what I was doing.

I have 4 books out now, and I’ve just written the fifth draft for the next one coming out in 2017.  I’ve developed a Freddy the Frogcaster weather APP and there’s interest in making Freddy into an animation of some form.  I’m also proud and honored that Freddy the Frogcaster is an ambassador for NOAA’s Weather Ready Nation program.  

*What have you enjoyed the most about writing the Freddy books?

I think just tapping into the excitement children have about weather and the world around us.   Writing these books and reaching out to kids is truly the most important work I’ve ever done.   I figure if we can tap into some of that excitement, and teach them about why things happen and how to prepare in advance, that can help take the scare out of a potentially serious weather event.  When I was out on the tornado alley tour with the book (Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri) I loved talking to children about their experiences with severe storms.  Over the years covering extreme weather events, I am always struck by how communities come together and help each other.   I truly believe we can help save lives by talking about what to do and how to prepare in advance.  And I have parents that tell me after they read the books, many times the children are the ones that take the initiative to get an emergency preparedness kit together which is wonderful.

*What do you like about meteorology? What exactly does your job entail?

I love that weather changes every single day.    I love the seasons, and all different types of weather.  It is the one thing that brings us all together.  We all experience weather.

My job really depends on the weather, and how big that story is. If there’s a major storm barreling up the East Coast, I’m on twice an hour with Fox and Fox Business Channel, along with doing reports for Fox News Radio.   A lot of people think I read a teleprompter. But it’s not scripted. I have a producer, Brandon, who helps with creating my maps but I do all my own research. But even while I’m working on research I have to be camera ready. One tornado warning in a big city, or if we get live flash flooding pictures into our news desk, they’ll call me to get on air ASAP.

*What is the writing process like for you?

I love writing.  I do it everyday.  I feel it’s very therapeutic .  In terms of the Freddy books,  I’m always thinking about new situations for Freddy and his friends at the Frog News Network to experience.  I just wrote the first draft to the next book.  I’ve been working on the story line in my head for a few weeks, and I just sat down and wrote the whole think in a few hours.  I usually have my husband look it over, and then I’ll edit it.  I also imagine some of the illustrations that would go on the page with my words.

*What is something about you that most people don't know?

Ha!  I have to say, viewers that have watched me on Fox News probably know a lot more than they thought they ever would.  I’ve been here for 13 years.  They’ve seen me get engaged, get married, have kids and go through triumphs and challenges on and off air.     I don’t really have any deep dark secrets…I'm not a very good cook – but I always say it’s not that I can’t cook – it’s that I choose not to.  Thankfully my husband makes up for my lack of culinary skills.



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