5 Minutes with a Northwest Arkansas Mom: Ashley Clontz

Ashley Clontz, children's book authorMamas, meet local Ashley Clontz, who just realized her dream of becoming a published children’s book author. Congratulations, Ashley!

Her book, Giraffe, What Do You Like to Eat?  is adorable and educational. It will definitely spark some fun conversations about food with your preschool and elementary-age kids. The illustrations are gorgeous and the book includes lots of fun facts about why animals and people eat. It uses kid-friendly language about how nutrients from the foods on their own plates help their bodies in different ways.

Ashley collaborated with her 4-year-old son, Hayden, to write the book after he expressed interest in creating one about his favorite animal. His enthusiasm reminded Ashley that she had wanted to write a book at a young age. 

Enjoy this short chat with Ashley about the book-writing process, what it was like seeing her sons find the Giraffe book at the Fayetteville Public Library and the Clontz family’s favorite way to spend the day in NWA.

How did your book first start coming together?

I thought it would be fun to write the book together and print a copy for our family … a significant upgrade from the cardboard cover I made as a child. 🙂 I had also been searching for a nutrition-focused picture book to help me introduce concepts to my kids while they were at a curious age. We eventually wrote a story last year including his favorite animal (giraffes) and foods. 

This educational book was only possible with help from a registered dietitian (also a NWA mom), a first-grade teacher (Dallas-based) and her class as my “focus group,” and a marine biologist (Germany-based).

It was such a cool experience to not learn about animals and nutrition and pursue a goal together. The generosity of other people with expertise that we did not have made the experience way more meaningful and fun. I hope this also encourages him to ask for help and give others help in pursuing goals, big and small, in the future.

It has been really rewarding to see other families use the book as a resource to spark curiosity and lighthearted conversations about *why* we eat with their children. We’ve heard how the kids also love the animals and illustrations from the book.

Your book has five stars on Amazon and it has sparked an event at the Amazeum this month! Cool! Tell us about the August 17 event:

I’m so excited about this back-to-school interactive event! It will be held during an Amazeum Priceless Night, so it’s free/pay-as-you-wish for everyone. It will be from 4:30-6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, 8/17. 🙂 Kids will be able to learn a little bit about how food helps our bodies and also do some of their favorite activities. One of the activities will involve them choosing their favorite (play) foods to build a healthy plate like in the book 🙂

*Note: You’ll be able to buy Ashley and Hayden’s book at the event. In addition to the Amazeum’s gift shop, their book is available locally at Pearl’s Books (a Fayetteville independent bookstore). It’s also available online at Amazon (five stars!), Walmart.com, Target.com and BarnesandNoble.com.

What brought you to NWA? 

We moved here in 2019 for my husband’s job. He is originally from Arkansas and briefly lived in Rogers before moving to Texas where we met. We were looking for a good place to raise a family and liked the idea of NWA. 

What are your children’s names and ages?

Hayden (4.5) and Logan (2)

What is your family’s idea of a perfect NWA day?

Getting coffee from Onyx, donuts from Rick’s Bakery, Fayetteville Farmers Market, Little Bread Co., and maybe a walk on a family-friendly trail. Preferably in the fall when it’s not 100 degrees. My husband would say a Razorbacks football game and getting a burger from Feltners! 

What was it like seeing Hayden find his book at the library?

Seeing him find our book in the Fayetteville library for the first time was a memory this mama won’t forget! It was truly such a special moment for me as a mom. As all parents know, raising young kids can be exhausting and a roller coaster but this was a good memory that will stick with me. 

What was your book about when you were a child? 🙂

I don’t remember the specifics, but it was some kind of story about our family pets.