Catherine Kirk's Reviews > Pink and Say

Pink and Say by Patricia Polacco
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Nov 06, 2011

really liked it
Read in November, 2011

Picture Book for Older Readers

"Pink and Say" is the touching story of two young men during the Civil War. Pinkus, Pink for short, is a young black man fighting for the Union. He finds Sheldon Curtis (Say) lying injured in a battle field. Pink takes Say back to his mother, Moe Moe Bay, who nurses him back to health. After he becomes healthy, they decide to leave, but marauders come and ransack Moe Moe Bay's home before they leave, killing her in the process. Once they bury her, they leave to try to find their companies again, but they're tracked by Confederate soldiers and taken to Andersonville, one of the worst Confederate camps. The book explains that Say made it through the camp alive, and eventually returned to his home, but Pink was hanged within hours of reaching Andersonville. Since he had no children or grandchildren to remember him, the author explains, this book serves as a reminder of his life.

The illustrations in this book are vivid and show exactly what is happening throughout the story. They are realistic without being too lifelike, and I like this because I think it could enable students to think of the characters as any two young men, possibly helping them to relate better to the characters by thinking that could be them/their brother/their friend. I also liked how the illustrations showed the two boys going off to war in the very first pages of the book, before the story truly began. I think that really set the mood for the rest of the book.

This book would be great to use with older readers (4th-5th grade) when discussing the Civil War or slavery. It could also help to lead into a great discussion about discrimination, and how the color of one's skin is insignificant. This is apparent in the story since Pink and Say became like family even though they shouldn't have even associated with one another because of their skin colors. I loved the message behind this book and the beautiful language that the story was told with, and would definitely use it in my classroom.
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