From Fox News broadcast meteorologist Janice Dean comes an entertaining and educational picture book about weather called Freddy the Frogcaster and the Big Blizzard. On the entertaining side, Dean has created a suspenseful enough plot to hold the attention of young readers. The bright and bold illustrations are also bound to captivate. On the educational side, not only does the text itself contain science facts, but there are seven back pages full of information about winter storms.
I’ll start with the plot. Freddy Frog and his friends taking a school trip to Frog News Network. While at the weather desk, Freddy notices a big blizzard is heading towards his little town of Lilypad and jumps into action. Will Freddy get the word out before the wind starts blowing and the snow starts falling? One course of action Freddy takes is to build blizzard kits. What will happen when not everyone shows the same enthusiasm for his kits? I predict that after reading this adventurous tale, young students will be pestering the adults in their lives to take them to a news network. Just as importantly, these students will also start creating their own emergency kits and demanding adults to keep them on hand for upcoming winter storms.
As for the science facts, Dean wisely avoids weighing down the plot with them. Instead her story includes only brief references to terms like air mass and weather satellites. Mostly, Dean focuses on how Freddy takes action to get the word out of a blizzard and to build storm kits. Herein, she also avoids falling into the cliché of narrating a story about being stuck in weather. Still, be prepared for young readers of Freddy to start watching more weather reports and tossing around terms like cold mass, warm mass, front, and water vapor. The seven back pages contain an explanation of how blizzards develop, the various types of weather precipitation, and even a winter storm checklist.
While there is much to appreciate about Freddy the Frogcaster and the Big Blizzard, I did find it lacking in some ways. For example, one of the characters pretends to do a forecast in front a green screen but for the most part is invisible. When Freddy clicks a button, the screen turns blue and his friend returns. If one is not acquainted with how screen technology works, and there is no reason young readers would be, more explanation might be needed for this scene to make sense. Then there is Freddy’s connection to news staff, Sally Croaker and Polly Woggins. To me, the latter seem to be adults knowledgeable about weather. As such, it seems a little unrealistic that Freddy would find himself having to convince them that blizzard kits are useful.
With Freddy the Frogcaster and the Big Blizzard, Dean has done much right. She featured animals. She wrote about weather. Then she combined the two into an engaging plot, accompanied by colorful artwork. Who knows? Besides encouraging ones to build blizzard kits, Dean might also inspire some young readers to become meteorologists.