Chirp is 20 years old and I have illustrated a story in its anniversary issue this summer!
It’s about a cute little seagull. Check it out, it’s available now!
After On My Walk being a favourite of many toddlers and parents in- and outside of Vancouver, Tradewind Books has decided to publish the sequels On My Bike and On My Skis.
Both books will be out this Fall! Kari-Lynn Winters and I are beaming with joy. Now the images are in the hands of the amazing Elisa Guiterrez, who will for sure add her magic!
Here is a sneak peak of some of the illustrations from the books.
My last year was filled with a variety of fun projects and creative endeavours and with great people to work with in different settings. I was so busy that I never got to make note of it on the blog…
The Knowledge Network
My full-time job for a year was to replace the Art Director at British Columbia’s Knowledge Network while she was on maternity leave. Although I was challenged to work regular hours in an office setting, I ended up really liking it! From previous engagements there I knew I would be surrounded by very talented, friendly people and it was such a great experience to get to see them every day. I was lucky to work on diverse projects – my favourite being the development of a streaming app for the Knowledge Network’s children’s channel Knowledge Kids. After its launch, the app quickly became Canada’s most successful app for Kids in the itunes store and we were a very proud team.
To find the free app, search for Knowledge Kids Go in the apple or google app store.
I Love You One to Ten – Groundwood Books
I Love You One to Ten was published by Toronto’s Groundwood Books in September of 2015. It was a pleasure working with the publisher Sheila Barry and I am sure hoping for a repeat.
Prinzessin Piepenbrink – Arena Verlag
While working at the Knowledge Network, I was finishing-up an illustration project with the Arena Verlag in Wuerzburg, Germany. The book Prinzessin Piepenbrink und der Fuerchterlich Nette Drache became available in January 2016. It’s a fun read for German-reading first graders. Available in German book stores or on Amazon.
Also available since January is the new Chirp Magazine with a Dino Day ABC written and illustrated by me.
Today I am pleased to announce that another project is finished – at least from my end. In Fall 2015, ‘I Love You One to Ten’ written by Caroline Adderson, illustrated by me, will be published by Groundwood Books in Toronto. So now it’s time for the book designer to apply his magic and for the book to be printed.
Here is a little write-up:
In this poem addressed to a young child, author Caroline Adderson outlines the ten things a mother loves about her little one. From his scaley elbows and knees all the way to his twitchy tail, every inch of this little “monster” is itemized and admired. Gentle and humorous illustrations by Christina Leist show how one tired parent decides to participate in a bit of rowdy play at bedtime, with the result being a happily tired child and a mother who is even more in love with her offspring than she was at the beginning of the book. This satisfyingly unconventional bedtime story will encourage children and parents to appreciate each other just a little bit more every time they read it.
And here are a preview of the cover and a couple of illustrations.
Have you read On My Walk yet?
No? Have someone read it to you on YouTube!
The Toronto Public Library’s story time channel is featuring Kari-Lynn’s and my On my Walk. We think that’s awesome!
Thank you Toronto Public Library!
Check it out in the video post below!
On my Walk is fun for Children from age 1-5 and should you like the video, you can get the real book at your local
book store or library.
As much as I love writing and illustrating, I also enjoy working as a book designer. Yesterday my latest project was launched.
It’s the second book I designed for Linnie von Sky and Silk Web Publishing. Once more the R.A. Bender illustrated Linnie’s text. I think the outcome is another charming book, which you will soon find at stores all over Canada.
Linnie is already sourcing funds for the next project. It looks like it will be another cool one and I am hoping to be part of the team again. If you are curious about Sadly, the Owl, please look here.
This Summer I had the great honour of being selected as a jury member of three for the 2014 Governor General’s Literature Awards in Children’s Illustration.
For my non-Canadian friends: the Governor General’s Literary Awards are considered one of Canada’s most prestigious prizes – they are a big deal…
So in Spring I got this very mysterious email from Canada Council for the Arts, in which I was asked when it would be best to call me. It didn’t mention what the call would be about. When I learnt later on the phone what I was invited to do, I was thrilled. What an honour! And I certainly wondered: Em, why me?
The only sad thing was that I wasn’t allowed to share the good news. It was to be kept secret. Not easy to do when all the sudden you find yourself trying to hide boxes full of the most amazing books in your not too spacious one-bedroom apartment in Vancouver’s Kitsilano. Or when you have to come up with excuses for cancelling invites for a weekend in August, as you can’t say that you will be flying to Ottawa to meet up with the other jury members Ron Lightburn and Ange Zhang to select the final 5 books for the GG’s. I managed somehow. But really, it wasn’t easy.
Now that the finalists and the winner are announced, the gala was held yesterday, I am free to spill the beans.
Congratulations to Marie-Louise Gay, Renata Liwska, Qin Leng, Julie Morstad and especially to the winner Jillian Tamaki, the illustrator of This one Summer !
Also good to know: Jillian’s cousin, Mariko Tamaki – the author of this one Summer – is a finalist for Children’s text.
Here is what our commitee had to say about the winning work:
“The tender and touching story of This One Summer comes to life with Jillian Tamaki’s cinematic and evocative illustrations. Fondness for detail, insightful character development and realistic body language convey complex emotions from the first through to the last page. A tour de force of powerful visual storytelling.”
Check out the finalists and the winners of the 2014 Governor General’s Literary Awards here!
Currently I am working on an exciting picture book for Groundwood Books in Toronto.
Unfortunately the illustration briefing was changed while I was working on the project – the first round of characters (monsters) didn’t fit the concept anymore and I had to start all over (with human characters).
Although having to let go of the work done was not easy, the project is coming along really well in its new direction and I happen to have a couple of not-too-scary spare monsters in the drawer…:)
Since it’s Halloween this weekend I decided to let them out and share them on the blog. I hope you like monsters and seeing a bit of the developmental process behind them. I have grown really fond of those guys and am hoping they can be re-purposed.
Monster mom, baby and cat
development – random shots
A little while back I was teaching painting to seniors. Some of the students hadn’t held a brush since they were little kids and they were hesitant to start with their artwork.
They were wondering what was expected of them, as they didn’t want to mess with the utensils they were provided with and make mistakes.
When we established that messing around was part of what we were doing in class, they managed to drop their fears and plunged into the experience – with beautiful outcomes.
I am working creatively (almost) every day and still I experience those moments of being totally paralyzed, not sure what is expected of me, not wanting to make mistakes.
Therefore note to self: Get to it, be messy, enjoy the experience and don’t be afraid of not meeting expectations! Who knows maybe the outcome is going to be just beautiful…
It’s summer, I am in sunny Greece and drawing a snowman for Highlights Magazine.
Nothing better than setting up office camp on an island with a close friend. Photographer Chris Spira and I found office heaven.
Again, it has been a while.
I have been busy with mountain adventure, travel, design work (e.g. for BC’s Knowledge Network) and illustration.
For example I just finished a new story for Chirp Magazine, featuring my Little Unicorn character. Below you see the last two versions of the art for this story (to be published in their September issue). The first version is the one I liked an created initially. The second version is the altered version as per client request. The changes make absolute sense in context of the text and considering the magazine’s paper.
There will be more posts again soon. I am about to sign my first contract to illustrate a Erstleser book for Arena in German and illustrations for a new picture book with Groundwood Books in Toronto is on the horizon, which I am very excited about. Also, I am lucky to design another book for My Silk Web.
What an adventure being part of the Rainforest of Reading was!
Sonya White, Richard Clewes and Marlaina White (the main people behind the OneWorld Schoolhouse Foundation and the creators of the Rainforest of Reading), Sylvia Gavin (owner of Ecojot) and designer Carolyn Gavin, filmmaker Mike Enns, fellow author Kari-Lynn Winters and myself travelled to Grenada and St. Lucia for one week to attend two amazing festival days in celebration of reading and literacy.
First Stop Grenada
We arrived late in the evening at our accommodation in Grenada to a concert of tree frogs and fruit bats swirling around hibiscus trees. The air was warm and humid. A strong breeze was shaking trees and bushes, as October marks the end of the hurricane season in the Caribbean. After a night of trying to get used to the sounds of the tropics, the next day unexpectedly ended-up being an organize-nearly-everything-last-minute for Richard and Sonya. Despite some real challenges in regards to the event location and transportation of children, etc they worked their magic with the help of their Grenadian connections to get everything organized for the first event on the following day.
When I entered the location on the morning of the event, I couldn’t believe that such an organizational masterpiece was even possible: The place looked great! Colourful signage and posters brightened-up the space from every wall. There was a big room with chairs indoors and plenty of space for activities outdoors.
More than 400 grade 3 students came to the event in Grenada. All of them were wearing their school uniforms. They arrived cramped into minivans and busses to participate in workshops, crafts, literacy-based games and to meet us authors. It was great to see kids so excited to meet us and to have us sign their passports (each child received a passport-booklet with questions and little tasks to help them give feedback on the 12 books they were reading and judging as part of the Forest of Reading)! What great motivation they were to us visitors to keep doing what we are doing!
The day rushed by, as there were so many of the kids’ questions to answer, characters to draw, stories to be read, hugs to give and passports to sign. I really enjoyed having quality time with some of the children and even was able to dress-up 4 young helpers in costumes of Jack the Bear, Nosy Fox, Brainy Owl and Grumpy Squirrel.
Jamal, the boy playing Jack left me no choice other than chosing him for the job when he called out loud:
I want to be Jack the Bear!
At the end of the day we were all feeling high from all the love for and excitement about reading. The event was a great success! Congrats to Dominique Demers’Today Maybe (illustrated by Gabrielle Grimard), the student’s favourite in Grenada!
Second Stop St. Lucia
After saying Bye to Kari and Mike (who had to leave us to pursuit other commitments back home in Canada) we flew over to St. Lucia. We were greeted by a very strong rain shower followed by beautiful sunshine. Our accommodation was situated right in the jungle, where Silvia, Carolyn and I spend the next day relaxing, while Sonya and Richard were setting up for the event in Castris. This event should top the event in Grenada in size and volume. The event location was a sports stadium with two big roofed stands.
Over 2000 children came! The police blocked a main street and the kids formed a parade of readers. The parade was led by the Police Marching Band and the children entered the stadium carrying flags and wearing masquerade featuring the 12 nominated books. Many people in the streets saw the kids and the media, wondering what amazing event is happening in Castris that day.
After listening to speeches of honoraries like Governor General Dame Pearlette Louisy, the kids enjoyed, games, crafts and readings! There were 10 different stations with activities and big groups of children would rotate from one station to the next.
I was amazed with how much interest everything offered was received. About 100 kids at a time were listening to me read from my book without making a sound and were eager to get an autograph in their passport afterwards. Nearly each and everyone had read the nominated books and made notes on the stories and drawn little sketches in their passports. They all had noted a question for me.
The most popular question was:
Have you ever seen a bear?
Luckily I was able to answer with a Yes. When I told them that I actually know a the bear who loves to come into the backyard and eat from the garbage can, they weren’t quite sure, if they can believe me.
At the very end, when most kids were in their buses on the way home, the sky opened up and it rained heavily. To me it was like the grand finale of an exiting event in Castris! Congrats to Kerry Sather’s Be Yourself (illustrated by David Mark), the student’s favourite in St Lucia!
This trip was a lifetime experience. 4 days after returning to Vancouver, I am still digesting.
Thank you so much Richard and Sonya for your support of literacy, for creating the Rainforest of Reading and for letting me be part of it! Also thanks to all the amazing sponsors of literacy that they found. You made a big difference in these children’s life – and in mine!
I mentioned it before… my book Jack the Bear is nominated for a very special book award! The RAINFOREST OF READING®
And I will be going to the Eastern Caribbean on October 20 to help celebrate!
3 days ago the RAINFOREST OF READING®, a book festival featuring 12 award-winning children’s books from Canada, planted its roots in schools throughout the Eastern Caribbean starting in Saint Lucia and Grenada. The three-week event engages 4,000 Grade 3 students in over 100 primary schools. It is the largest literacy initiative ever undertaken in a region still reeling from infrastructure damage caused by Hurricane Ivan (2006) and Hurricane Tomas (2010) and the economic impact of a global recession.
The children get to read the nominated books and will vote for their favourite. The winner will be announced at reading festivals in both Grenada and St Lucia at the end of October where I will be attending.
The RAINFOREST OF READING® Festival was created by OneWorld Schoolhouse Foundation in co-operation with the Saint Lucia Ministry of Education, Human Resource Development & Labour and the Grenada Ministry of Education & Human Resource Development. The festival is inspired by the Ontario Library Association (OLA) whose FOREST OF READING® program has been cultivating lifelong readers in Ontario schools for over 20 years.pulled together by the One Schoolhouse Foundation with The Ontario Library association and several sponsors.
I am very proud to be part of this! Learn more about the nominated authors and their books, about the festival itself and about the makers behind the festival on their really nice website here.
Two weeks (10 work days) of one horse a day are over. Today is the last day of posting.
It was a good finger exercise!
I will miss the cute ponies and horses, but it wasn’t always easy to squeeze in a horse in regards to time.
I had to rein myself in and let go sooner than I normally do… Especially on the days I created the quickies I was very limited in time. The perfectionist in me would have had an easy time to just go on and on. Surprisingly I ended-up really liking the quickies!
Today’s result was a fairly fast shot as well.
Dolly and Cougar escaped from their pasture by running through the electric fencing. It was Dolly’s idea to try. Though Cougar wasn’t too sure about the project, he now is very pleased that they found a nice field of oats which resulted in their bellies being very happy!