In the age of body positivity and women (girls) standing up for themselves, the new children’s book We Toot hits just the right note with its message of acceptance and friendship. As a mother of two girls, I fully appreciated the message, and definitely enjoyed my children’s laughter as we read the story together. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to speak with We Toot’s author, Ashley Wheelock (who co-wrote the book with her sister Arwen Evans), and ask her about becoming an author and the inspiration behind the book.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a lawyer, mom, and eternal nerd. I was born in Arizona but moved to Orange County as a child. I graduated from El Toro High School in Lake Forest in 1998. From there I went to Berkeley and then to law school.
How did you come to be a writer?
I’ve always loved writing stories. In fact, I was the youngest ever editor-in-chief of my elementary school press. I was always writing, but didn’t do much with what I wrote for years. Like all parents, I started reading a lot of KidLit with my kids. Life is unexpected. The very weekend I didn’t get a job I was trying for, children’s books just started flowing out of me. So, I joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and learned all I could about writing for children.
Besides yours, do you have a favorite picture book right now?
There are so many! On the Day You Begin by Jaqueline Woodson is an amazing picture book about feeling different that I think every child should have. My two girls love it.
Tell us about your co-author?
My co-author is my life-long collaborator, sister, and friend, Arwen Evans. She’s a PR and branding executive in New York and mom of three girls. We came up with the idea to write this book together after our brother farted on a family vacation. We realized there was an opportunity to break the “gas” ceiling.
Why did you write THIS book?
My sister and I feel it’s important for girls to love themselves even if they aren’t “perfect.” Children learn so much through books, and take away things parents don’t even pick up on. That’s why our book includes girls that are quirky and unique and ones that might have something they could be embarrassed about physically. We also wanted to challenge a double standard that exists for girls. They are often told they shouldn’t toot or even that girls don’t toot! We just wanted the girls of today to know that it’s natural to toot and everyone does it, which might allow them to accept their bodies and not have to feel embarrassed or ashamed.
What do you hope people take away from We Toot?
We want all children to feel comfortable in their bodies. Ultimately, we want girls to love and accept their bodies and hope they can take this learning with them as they get older. And bonus, all kids love to talk about toots and poops so we hope there’s a lot of family fun and laughing.
How do you balance being a mother, an author, and a lawyer?
I’m not going to say it’s easy. Sometimes I don’t feel like I’m doing any of it that well. But I write because I love it and it can be done when everyone is asleep. All these things will always be in tension and I just have to be comfortable with that. But I also hope that I’m a role model for my girls, showing them they can have a family and two careers that bring joy.
Are you working on another book?
I have several works in progress on my own. Arwen and I are also working on a couple of books together that have feisty girl characters. We also hope to write another book about body-positivity with the same cast of characters as We Toot. We love everything about each of those girls.
Well my girls and I loved We Toot, so we can’t wait to see what you come up with next.
Check out the hilarious We Toot book trailer below. Fair warning, your kids may be singing this song for a few days. We Toot is available for purchase on Amazon.