Polacco, P. (1994). Pink and Say. New York, NY: Philomel Books.
Genre: Historical Fiction
Grade Level: 3-5
I was not expecting Pink and Say to be a book about two soldiers in he Civil War. Looking at the cover I assumed that the story was about two children who befriended one another during a time where racism was at its highest and whites and blacks were not allowed to associate with one another. I only heard about this book from this class and have never read it personally, so I had no clue what to expect from it. It just goes to show, never judge a book by its cover or its title. Pink and Say when I first heard the title of this book I thought it was a little peculiar. I honestly don’t think I would have read it, if it were not assigned to me, but boy would I have been missing out! This story was just full of surprises. In the beginning (once i saw it was a story about the civil war), I thought that maybe Say was a confederate that befriends a union solider, Pink, who has helped him out, realizing that African Americans are not bad at all. But they were both union, and surprisingly Say had no problems with the color of Pink’s skin. He just mentioned that he has never seen someone like him up close before. When Say woke up in Moe Moe Bay and Pink’s house, I found it so comforting and sweet that Moe Moe Bay treated Say as if he were her own child. Especially at the part of the story just before the Marauders came, where she held hi in her arms and comforted him as he laid out all his guilt about running from battle. This story was so powerful and showed what true friendship really was, it is no wonder why they told it to their children and their children’s children. It really touched my heart at the end of the story where Polacco wrote,
“This book serves as a written memory of Pinkus Aylee since there are no living decendants to do this for him. When you read this, before you put this book down, say his name out loud and vow to remember him always.”
The books set up was a little like Mo Willems’ book, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, where the story starts before there are actual words, it starts with pictures. Also like Willems, Patricia Polacco drew her own pictures, and quite beautifully at that. They were so detailed, I thought they may have been done using water colors like Owl Moon, but I couldn’t find what was used. There were quite a lot of themes that I took away from this story one being friendship. Pink and Say shows how friendships can form in the most unlikely circumstances. Here are two boys who have never met before and just happen to come across each other in the middle of nowhere. Nothing about their appearance mattered to each other, especially skin color, which was a major factor back then. Though their friendship was short lived, Say never forgot the kinds and joy he felt when he was with Pink and he honored the memory of Pinkus Aylee by telling his children.
This would be a good book to read to the students and teach them that we are all equal. That all barriers built up by society can be broken down and overcome by kindness towards one another. At such a young age, children are very impressionable. It is important to change their way of thinking for the better. I would use this book to create a lesson that helps children to see and realize that even though someone may be different from them, it doesn’t mean that they could treat them poorly.
What did Pinkus do to help Say?
If you saw someone in need of help, would you help them like Pink did?
How did Moe Moe Bay save Pink and Say?
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY R.L.3.3 Describe characters in a story and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events.