Blackberry Gift Shop

Kristi Nielsen

To family and friends, it comes as no surprise that Kristi Nielsen is writing and illustrating children’s books during her retirement. Not only is a passionate artist and writer, she is inspired by a two-year-old granddaughter and newborn grandson. She has been interested in words and art since her childhood.


Her mother’s ancestors immigrated to the US from Wales in 1620 and indeed were the publishers of the dictionary. The family also published the works of Henry David Thoreau, Louisa May Alcott and other famous writers of that era. Having our family name on the dictionary was enough reason, in her opinion as an eight-year-old, to give her license to create new words when she felt none of the words she knew didn’t adequately describe what she wanted to express or what she imagined. She had a wild imagination, which often got her in trouble with her mother.


As an 8 year old Mrs. Larson, her grade three teacher, entered the best pieces her student’s art in the local fair and winning pieces went on to the Edmonton Exhibition. That year, Kristi won her first prize in the Edmonton Exhibition leading to her entering every category she could possibly enter in following years. This summer, 60 years after being in Mrs. Larson’s class, she had the privilege of re-uniting with the teacher who inspired her lifelong love for artistic pursuits. This was a befitting event, as this fall Kristi released 8 children’s picture books and joined the Blackberry Gift Shop and Artists Co-op.

Her two-year-old granddaughter is a loyal fan. She comes out with things like “My Amma has the best books at her house” and “Amma, you wrote pictures in books, and you wrote pictures on your walls, too”. As yet she doesn’t differentiate between paints and art, or between writing and drawing.


Her granddaughter’s favourite colour is yellow. So, Amma did what, an Amma does. She wrote the book “Yellow is Better”. Fueled by the presence of grandchildren, her own imagination and memories of her own childhood, the books will keep on coming.


Kristi looks forward to meeting grandparents, parents and children alike, who share a love for literacy and art. She looks forward to hearing feedback on her books and frequently enjoys entertaining little ones with her stories.

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