When Fox News Channel's senior meteorologist, Janice Dean, isn't forecasting the weather, she is writing children's books and enjoying time with her two sons, Matthew and Theodore.
The Floral Park mom recently released her latest children's book, "Freddy the Frogcaster and the Big Blizzard" (Regnery Kids, $16.99), about a frog who loves weather and is known for having the best predictions in town. Dean will be at Barnes & Noble (91 Old Country Rd., Carle Place) on Saturday at 11 a.m. to sign copies of her new book. I was able to catch up with Dean about her "Freddy" books, motherhood, favorite Long Island spots and more. Take a look:
Q. What inspired you to write a children's book about weather?
"Over the years I’ve had many friends and colleagues ask me for my recommendations on children’s weather books. I did some research, and there wasn’t a whole lot out there that told a great story while gently introducing meteorology concepts to young readers. I began thinking that maybe it was something I could try since I had two young kids, I had read many books to them, and I had a few ideas about how I could make weather fun, as well as educational. My own kids have a huge interest in weather and why things happen, so this was something I thought could be fun and also fill a void in children’s literature. After publishing my first book, I went out to many schools and read 'Freddy the Frogcaster' to hundreds of students. It caught their attention, and made me realize this could actually be a series."
Q. What was one of the funniest things a child has asked you about the weather?
"Just recently a kindergartner asked if one day Freddy could do the weather with me on television someday. I thought it was funny and a brilliant idea. Maybe there’s an idea there for a children’s TV show! They also like to suggest what I should cover in the next Freddy adventure. Some of the ideas are hilarious and also smart. Freddy finds a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow or Freddy gets his own talk show. I also love to ask kids what they think the next book should be on. Many say a hurricane, and several have decided 'terrible tornado' should be also covered."
Q. With two young children, how do you balance it all?
"That’s the million-dollar question for all working moms. We just do it with the help of our husbands, family and caregivers. I also have a superhero husband who does more than his share of household chores and kid drop-offs and pickups while balancing a demanding career of his own. I am also very fortunate to have a nanny who has been with us since the kids were babies, and adores my kids as much as they love her."
Q. What are your favorite rainy-day activities to do as a family on Long Island?
"Oh, we have many places we like to go if the weather isn’t cooperating. We’re members of the Long Island Children’s Museum, the Cradle of Aviation that also shares space with the Long Island Firefighter’s Museum. I am so impressed with the aviation museum and I put it on par with any similar museum in the nation. It is a lot of fun to learn about Grumman’s deep history on the Island and how many historic flights occurred here, as well as groundbreaking research and production. And those impressive airplanes on display are a way to introduce children to STEM and how fascinating science can be. We also love going to Barnes & Noble in Carle Place for a couple hours. They have the best children’s section I’ve ever seen! My boys love the Thomas Train Set and being able to sit down and read any of the books on display in the reading area."
Q. What are some of your favorite Long Island things to do?
"We really do love living on Long Island -- there are so many things for families to enjoy -- and I’m still discovering more and more each year. As far as where we visit, we pretty much follow the seasons. Long Island has some of the best beaches in the world -- the South Shore sand is so fine and soft under a blanket (or between my toes!), and the boys love ocean waves. We love heading to Old Westbury Gardens almost year round, especially in the spring and summer, but we hear there are some neat fall events coming. Speaking of Halloween, there are a few nurseries near us where we do our pumpkin picking -- Hicks in Westbury and Martin Viette in East Norwich come to mind. And we recently discovered Adventureland in Farmingdale, which was a big hit with the boys, and where I won big stuffed animal prizes with the frog toss, of all things. Freddy must have told his friends to take it easy on me."