As the Senior Meteorologist for Fox News Channel, Janice Dean is known for her on-the-money forecasts. But becoming the author of “Freddy the Frogcaster,” a children’s book about the weather, was not originally on her radar.
Freddy leapt to life only after years of colleagues asking Dean to recommend a book that taught kids about the weather. So she began thinking about writing one herself.
“There are very, very simple books and there are more scientific books that get into big, big discussions about how weather really happens in the atmosphere,” Dean explains. “I wanted to kind of get in between and gently introduce the science of weather to kids.”
The result, four years later, is her illustrated story of a young frog who wants to grow up to become a meteorologist. Freddy learns about weather patterns by constantly studying the sky near his lily pad home and watching his favorite forecaster — and thanks to his hard work, he’s able to warn his friends about a big storm threatening to ruin the town picnic.
While Dean says she thought the niche was one she could fill, getting “Freddy the Frogcaster” published was no easy feat.
The first publisher she approached gave Dean positive feedback about the general concept of a weather book for kids but said she needed to develop a solid storyline. For a children’s book, that meant Dean needed to come up with a great character.
Freddy came to her as she was rocking her then-newborn son to sleep, Dean says.
“Groundhog was taken, obviously,” she laughs. “I kept coming back to a frog, because frogs are outside, they seem to love going into water. There’s a lot of fun to be had with a frog character.”
After “many, many drafts,” the story of the aspiring "frogcaster" found a home with a publisher she credits with nurturing the project to completion, including pairing her with an illustrator whose vision matched hers.
“Sometimes I think the illustrations are more important than the story line because you have to really capture [children’s] imagination and their attention,” she says.
Like Freddy, who kept honing his craft and learning as much as he could, Dean says the publishing process taught her “hard work really pays off."
“It took me a number of years but I kept coming back to it and making it better,” she says. “The story is cute and I’m proud of the fact that it’s educational but it’s a vibrant book.”