Belinda Jensen, chief meteorologist at KARE 11 News in the Twin Cities, will appear at Scout and Morgan books in Cambridge to promote her new series of children’s books about the weather.
Jensen’s series is called “Bel the Weather Girl,” and each book is meant to teach children about a different type of weather phenomenon. Jensen will be reading and discussing her children’s books from 1-3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 6. Each book will be available for purchase and can be personally autographed by Jensen.
The books were inspired by the time Jensen has spent educating children about the weather during her 26-year career as a meteorologist. After earning her degree in meteorology, she worked for the National Weather Service.
She tends to visit with second-graders because that’s when kids get taught about weather in school. She says their reactions range from fear to curiosity about how weather works.
The “Bel the Weather Girl” series is intended, in part, to assuage common childhood fears about weather phenomena. The books in the series are “A Party for Clouds: Thunderstorms,” “Raindrops on a Rollercoaster: Hail,” “The Sky Stirs Up Trouble: Tornadoes,” “A Snowstorm Shows Off: Blizzards,” “Spinning Wind and Water: Hurricanes” and “Weather Clues in the Sky: Clouds.”
Jensen says she had come up with several of the stories for the books as ways to help kids she spoke to understand how weather works. She had been thinking of writing the stories down for years before she got serious about doing so.
The books are “just a passion project that’s come to fruition,” Jensen said.
Once she signed on with Lerner Publishing, Jensen worked with a writing consultant and illustrator Renee Kurilla for the books. The writing consultant helped Jensen write for children and for use in school curricula. “I’m not a writer,” Jensen said.
The books follow three main characters: Bel, who is curious about the weather, her cousin Dylan, who is afraid of some kinds of weather, and their dog Stormy, who is also afraid of bad weather.
Jensen has personal experience with the fears her books aim to address.
“I have an 8-year-old who is afraid of the weather,” she said, “and the trouble with that is that when the weather’s bad, mom leaves to go to work.”
Bel the Weather Girl’s dog Stormy is based on Jensen’s own Burnese Mountain dog as well.
Jensen says research has shown that learning about the science behind weather does help children get over apprehension about it. Books in the series include learning activities, glossaries and facts about weather to help their readers learn, according to a press release about the series.
“These books are all about information is power,” Jensen said.
The “Bel the Weather Girl” series was published on April 1. The books are being sold throughout the country, which is why the Minnesota-based meteorologist chose to devote one of the stories to hurricanes, which have little effect on the Midwest.
Jensen says she thinks the key to good writing for children is that it “has to be tangible.”
“You just have to create a story that’s believable,” she said.
Scout and Morgan Books is located at 114 Buchanan St. N., Cambridge, and can be reached at 763-689-2474.