In light of the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina hitting American shores, our CBC exclusive author interview with Fox News Channel’s Senior Meteorologist and children’s author, Janice Dean, explores whether or not America is ready for another hurricane or not. In her new children’s book, Freddy the Frogcaster and the Huge Hurricane, Ms. Dean attempts to educate children and families about the dangers of Mother Nature.
Congratulations Ms. Dean on your new book, Freddy the Frogcaster and the Huge Hurricane! Can you give us an overview of your book?
Freddy the Frogcaster joins his friends Polly Woggins and Sally Croaker at the Frog News Network to help track a huge hurricane that is on its way towards their lily pad. Freddy has had plenty of practice having helped prepare his neighborhood from a big thunderstorm in the first book (Freddy the Frogcaster) and then the snowstorm in the second book (Freddy the Frogcaster and the Big Blizzard), so when a hurricane is on its way, Freddy is weather-ready to warn his friends and family and make sure they are safe before the storm moves in.
What three key takeaways would you like readers to leave with after reading your book? And do you believe children’s books can educate children on complex subject matters, like Global Warming and the environment?
Freddy’s main message is to be prepared. If parents and kids are prepared for a weather event, it takes the panic or scare out of a potentially dangerous situation. This means having things like an emergency preparedness kit, knowing where to go if and when there is a severe weather event and keeping emergency numbers and a plan together beforehand.
The other takeaways are also hard work and that practice pays off. Freddy makes sure he is doing his very best to get his community aware and prepared for the hurricane – keeping alert of the latest weather watches and warnings, forecasting, and doing his part to broadcast the message to as many frogs as he can. His frog friends and family know that Freddy is dedicated to helping others, and he gets plenty of praise for his diligence and loyalty to his community.
The other part of it is about family and community. It’s important to have a connection to both especially during times of hardships, like a weather emergency when neighbors need to help one another.
As for the other part of the question, complex subject matters…I think if kids have a basis of knowledge on things and they want to find out more on a topic, this can be a springboard to learn more about weather or climate issues. I certainly hope these books will help inspire a next generation of meteorologists.
Your new book is also very timely as it is the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina this year. What, if anything, has improved or changed in the last decade in the way weather is reported, and how governments prepare their citizens for violent storms?
In terms of reporting storms, the technology and computer models have gotten a lot more precise as to narrowing the gap of where a storm could affect a certain region. But, it’s still not a perfect forecast. There is still uncertainty involved and if you are within a watch or area of concern you need to be paying close attention to your local forecasts and your local government officials.
One thing I am concerned about is we haven’t had a category three hurricane or higher hit the US in 10 years, and there are millions of new residents along the Gulf and Atlantic coast that have never experienced a hurricane before. The complacency is what I am concerned about.
As someone who works day in and day out in the weather reporting industry, do you believe that climate change is primarily caused by human action?
I am a meteorologist, so I report on weather events that are happening right now or in a short period of time. You’re best to ask a climatologist that question. However, I will say that predicting anything outside of a five day forecast is still incredibly difficult to find out what the weather or climate will be like in a few months, a few years, or even a few decades is next to impossible.
Tell us a little more about yourself personally!
Favorite Movie: The first movie that comes to mind is Groundhog Day. I also love When Harry Met Sally. Any 80s movie that brings me back to my childhood/teenage years – 16 Candles, The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
Favorite TV Show: I miss Mad Men. I’m looking forward to the new season of Homeland. It’s hard watching any television with two small kids though!
Favorite Food: Hard to pick one thing. I love everything from fancy Italian to sushi, or Chinese food. A good sandwich from Subway is pretty darn tasty too. And I have a big sweet tooth, so I always save room for dessert.
Favorite Drink: I love my coffee in the morning with creamand sugar. Otherwise I drink water and I’m always excited to have a glass of white wine on occasion.
Favorite Music Group: The Eagles.
Where do you get your news from primarily? Fox News Channel, of course.
If you could meet any person, dead or alive, who would it be? I would like to see my dad again one more time. He died a few years back and I wish I had had just a little more time with him.
What do you do for fun? I enjoy going to dinner with my husband or my girlfriends once a week. Taking care of my boys and working fulltime keeps me busy so I appreciate the time when I can re-connect with my husband or good friends over dinner – time well spent. I also enjoy reading a good book and being excited to pick it up and lose myself in a good story.
What books, authors, or conservative-themed books, influenced your political philosophy and outlook on life?
I’ve always been an avid reader from a young age. I loved everything from Dr. Seuss to Alice in Wonderland to Nancy Drew. My husband and I both love to read, and have fabulous conversations about books we’ve read or recommendations we’ve gotten from other people. I just picked up the book All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr and look forward to reading that. And one of the books I’ve always wanted to read but for some reason never got around to it – Seabiscuit, by Laura Hillenbrand is also sitting on my nightstand. I especially want to read that since we witnessed the first Triple Crown winner in 27 years, American Pharaoh, at the Belmont Stakes this year!