Permalink to Magische Mädchen Geschichten

Magische Mädchen Geschichten

Super News!
Prinzessin Piepenbrinck (I am the illustrator) was released in the anthology Magische Mädchen Geschichten by Arena publishers in Germany. The story is full of cute dragons and young adventurers who now get to mingle with unicorns and magic ponies, sharing the same book!
Find it here on Amazon!




Permalink to Chip’s Workshop Game for the Knowledge Network

Chip’s Workshop Game for the Knowledge Network

A while back this year, I had the pleasure to be the driving force and designer of on another project for the Knowledge Network’s children’s channel Knowledge Kids. ‘Chip’s Workshop’ is a learning game featuring the channel’s charming beaver character in action.
Check it out here.


Permalink to On My Swim is here!

On My Swim is here!

Finally, On My Swim, book #4 in the On My … series – written by Kari-Lynn Winters, illustrated by myself – is out.
The series now covers all 4 seasons. This one is set on and around a beach on a windy summer day.

The imagery of the beach may remind readers familiar with Vancouver of Wreck Beach (minus any nude bodies) and this is not accidental. To me Wreck Beach is special – it is located so close to the city, yet its wildness is somewhat protected by steep climb down a 500-step staircase.

When creating the illustrations for this book, a special form of time travel was required: style-time-travel.
I have worked on reinventing and evolving my illustration style over the years and am quite happy with where it is at at the moment. The illustrations in this book though had to match the style of the first book in the series, which was published in 2010 – seven years ago. Back then my style was different. Although it wasn’t hard to settle back into this ‘old’ style of mine, I did have to set my ego aside for a while and simply work through the book.

Overall I am very happy with the result: another favourite and great present for toddlers and their adults in Vancouver and elsewhere.



Permalink to Chirp – Summer, Anniversary Issue

Chirp – Summer, Anniversary Issue

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!


Permalink to Almost Done! – Book Two and Three in the On My… Series

Almost Done! – Book Two and Three in the On My… Series

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.

sCover_Bike copy

spread3 copy

spread8 copy

spread11 copy

Cover copy

spread3 copy

spread9 copy

spread12 copy

Permalink to The Last Year and a Bit

The Last Year and a Bit

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.


Chirp Magazine

Also available since January is the new Chirp Magazine with a Dino Day ABC written and illustrated by me.


Permalink to New Work – I Love You One to Ten

New Work – I Love You One to Ten

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.



Permalink to On My Walk is featured by the Toronto Library’s Storytime on YouTube

On My Walk is featured by the Toronto Library’s Storytime on YouTube

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.


Permalink to On My Walk

On My Walk

Permalink to Latest Projects – Book Design for Silk Web Publishing: Pom Pom

Latest Projects – Book Design for Silk Web Publishing: Pom Pom

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.

Permalink to Keeping a Secret over the Summer – On the Jury for the Governor General’s Literary Awards 2014

Keeping a Secret over the Summer – On the Jury for the Governor General’s Literary Awards 2014

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.

ReadingFun_for _the GGs

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!

Permalink to Latest Projects – Groundwood Books: Left-over Monsters for Halloween

Latest Projects – Groundwood Books: Left-over Monsters for Halloween

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


christinaleist_monsters_along the way







Permalink to Note to Self!

Note to Self!

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…





Permalink to Latest Projects – Highlights Magazine

Latest Projects – Highlights Magazine

It’s summer, I am in sunny Greece and drawing a snowman for Highlights Magazine.

Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 12.13.00 PM
The little icons seeming to float around, will be replacing words in a poem.

Nothing better than setting up office camp on an island with a close friend. Photographer Chris Spira and I found office heaven.

Permalink to New Work, etc.

New Work, etc.

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.

The Red Mountain – Christina Leist for Chirp Magazine

The Red Mountain – Christina Leist for Chirp Magazine

The Red Mountain – Christina Leist for Chirp Magazine

The Red Mountain – Christina Leist for Chirp Magazine

The Red Mountain – Christina Leist for Chirp Magazine

The Red Mountain – Christina Leist for Chirp Magazine

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