Mooshka. Paschkis. Before Breakfast.

h1 February 28th, 2012 by jules

“In the sketches, I indicated roughly where there would be certain colors and developed the patterns later. All of the patterns that appear in the borders are in the quilt (Mooshka). So I did this illustration first.” —
Julie Paschkis on
Mooshka: A Quilt Story

Yes. Me grunt. No time talk. Me knee-deep in manuscript edits.

No, really. I can try to be a bit more eloquent. AHEM. [Straightening my spine, clearing my throat here, generally pulling myself up from my slump over my keyboard] …

Right. Before I get back to manuscript edits, here’s a quick post to say that, when it is released in March (not long from now), I highly recommend finding a copy, by hook or by crook, of Julie Paschkis’ Mooshka: A Quilt Story (Peachtree). What a beauty this picture book is. And Julie is here today to share some images and a few early sketches from it, as well as talk a bit about it.

The book tells the tender story of a young girl, Karla, who has “an unusual quilt.” Indeed, this quilt, which she calls Mooshka, talks to her. “At bedtime Mooshka always said, ‘Sweet dreams.’ First thing in the morning Mooshka might say, ‘Pancakes.'” Now, we’re not talking an animated, personified quilt with a mouth here, but we’re talkin’ this: Whenever Karla touches it, she hears in her mind the family stories that her grandmother once told her back when she sewed the quilt — “from scraps of old fabric that she called schnitz.” So, if Karla can’t sleep, she simply puts her hand on the schnitz of her choice, and she’s entertained with an old family tale.

One day, after a crib is moved into Karla’s room, complete with a brand-spankin’-new baby sibling, the stories stop. Mooshka is silent. But … well, I don’t want to give away the ending, but let’s say it’s okay for Mooshka not to storytell again, when you have a loving big sister who can now, in turn, pass on her own stories, as well as familial bonding.

Readers of 7-Imp know I’m a ginormous fan of Paschkis’ artwork, and she outdoes herself here with her vibrantly-colored folk art. Each spread is devoted a quilt pattern and often one color—a story to match each schnitz—and they’re all the more striking when Moohska’s silence turns to black. (That is, the anxiety-producing screaming sibling is surrounded by black backgrounds before Karla enters with her own attempt to soothe — and the rainbow of colors and beautiful quilt patterns return.)

A feast. A feast, I say. It’s a feast for one’s eyes! (That’s about as eloquent and precise as I can get with so many manuscript edits givin’ me the stink eye.)

Julie’s art will speak volumes—and way better than I—anyway, so enjoy the illustrations below. (These are without the text, so where you see giant white spaces … well, pretend words are there.) And thanks to Julie for sharing.

[NOTE: Interested folks will absolutely not want to miss this post about the book that Paschkis composed at the wonderful new blog she is heading up with three other friends: I mentioned this in Sunday’s post, but once again, it’s called Books Around the Table (subtitled “a potluck of ideas from four children’s book authors and illustrators”) and is the writings of author/illustrator Margaret Chodos-Irvine, poet and author Julie Larios, Julie herself, and author/illustrator Laura McGee Kvasnosky.]

Julie on the endpapers: “Every time I painted a pattern in an illustration, I also painted a triangle on the endpapers, which are a painting of the whole quilt: Mooshka.”

Early sketch and final spread:
“If Karla couldn’t sleep in the middle of the night, she would put her hand on a schnitz and it would tell her its story. Mooshka would go on and on until Karla was fast asleep.”

Early sketch and final spread:
“The red schnitz spoke in a cheery tone. ‘When your mother was just your age, she thought she could fly. She made me into a cape and jumped out of the cherry tree. Such fun—I fluttered and flapped in the wind. She broke her toe
but that wasn’t my fault.'”
Julie on this spread: “After drawing the sketches, but before painting the finals, I decided that whenever a schnitz (fabric scrap) of a certain color spoke, then all of the border patterns would be variations of that color. So, I ended up only using shades of red in this spread. … And shades of yellow in this one [below]…”

Early sketch and final spread:
“Each bit of fabric had a different way of speaking. The yellow schnitz spoke in a soft cottony voice. ‘I was a tablecloth at Grandmother’s farmhouse, which was all right, especially when something sweet spilled. I was glad to be useful. But once when your Aunt Marjorie was a girl, she made me into a tent and told fortunes beneath
my golden folds. Now that was glorious!'”

Julie: “I bought a book called Dating Fabric that showed little swatches of fabric designs from the 1800s to the 1960s, separated by decade. I used that for inspiration for the scale and color of the fabric patterns. I tried to design patterns that would look appropriate to the age of the schnitz. In the illustrations that took place in the present of the story, I used multicolored borders. When Mooshka stops talking, the patterns in the border disappear. The longer that Mooshka is silent, the darker the borders become. The patterns return when Karla decides to share the quilt and the stories with her sister.”

“One day a little white crib was moved into Karla’s room. Hannah was in the crib. That night Mooshka didn’t say a word, not even ‘Sweet dreams.’ Karla could think of
many words.
Unfair. Stinky. My room. But Mooshka was silent.”

“…Mooshka still didn’t speak.”

“‘Sister,’ said Mooshka. Hannah stopped crying and began to sniffle.”

* * * * * * *

MOOSHKA: A QUILT STORY. Copyright © 2012 by Julie Paschkis. Published by Peachtree, Atlanta. All images used with permission of Ms. Paschkis.

13 comments to “Mooshka. Paschkis. Before Breakfast.”

  1. ::happy sigh::
    Julie Paschkis’ work is indeed a treat to the eye. And I’d be all kinds of excited to have a storytelling quilt – what a quirky and creative little tale. And so beautiful that a story shared is the one that still speaks. A feast before breakfast.

  2. What lovely colors and patterns to look at during breakfast.

  3. What a beautifully rich book. I LOVE these illustrations and such a sweet story. Can’t wait to read it in it’s entirety. It also satisfies something deep within my novice sewing… but quilt loving self! Thanks

  4. Sigh. This looks like a lovely, lovely book. Beautiful colors and patterns, and it’s always a treat to see sketches. Thanks Julie and Jules :)!

  5. Gosh I love her work – can’t wait to pick this one up.

  6. Jules –
    Thanks so much for leaving your own quilt early in the AM to post about Mooshka.

  7. Julie is all heart and sheer brilliance! We love working with her.

  8. So much rich color that this story will be read repeatedly to take it all in. It makes me want to go through my hoards of fabric to see what I can piece together. I can’t wait to get this. Wonderful..thanks to you both.

  9. Oh, those YELLOW pages are particularly lovely.

  10. knee deep in edits…sounds like a good time to snuggle a bit in a blanket and feel the cozy. i like a good hammock…makes me feel hugged and the swing to my own heartbeat makes me feel one with the universe. then, i get back to work refreshed. smiles!

  11. Gosh… There are a lot of talented people out there! These are gorgeous!

  12. What a pretty book!

  13. I purchased Mooshka from Peachtree Publishers at the NCTE Convention in Las Vegas. I was told that a child size quilt kit will be available for purchase. The kit would make the quilt in the story. If this information is correct, please contact me with purchasing information.
    Thank you. I love the book.

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