Patricia Polacco is an American author who has written and illustrated many wonderful children’s books. Ironically, she only learnt to read when she was 14 due to a learning problem that went undiagnosed at her school until that time. She came from a family that valued the sharing of stories and learnt the art of storytelling at her grandmother’s knee. This shows in her remarkable retelling of this true story. Her artistic talent was recognized from a very young age and the inclusion of her artwork in this picture book for children enhances the book even more.
It is very unusual for a children’s picture book to deal with the horrific theme of war, racism, slavery and hate. These are just the type of things that we want to protect our children from, not so? Find out more about this powerful book that deserves a place on every bookshelf and every classroom in our Pink and Say book review.
It is about the universal values that we want our children to learn about and aspire to: friendship and kindness, optimism and self-sacrifice. By reading it with our children, we have the opportunity to teach them about the things that divide us as well as the things that make us decent human beings. If you are looking for even more books like this one for your children, take a look at our selection of the best civil war books for kids.
The title and cover of Pink and Say book seems so innocuous and gives us no clue to the depth of inspiring storytelling that lies between the covers. This book will make you cry for sure. It will also make you marvel at the kindness and forgiveness that humans are capable of showing towards one another in the most desperate of circumstances.
Because it is a true story, it somehow makes it easier to share with children. The facts speak for themselves and children can ask important questions as well as draw their own conclusions from the discussions that will inevitably follow a reading of it. Hopefully, they will be better adults because of this amazing book.
Pink and Say book tells the story of two young soldiers who meet during the American Civil War. Say (Sheldon Curtis) was a white Union soldier and Pink (Pinkus Aylee), a Union soldier in the 48th Colored regiment. Pink found Say wounded and dying on the battlefield and, without thinking of the risk that he was taking, he carried him to the safety of his mother’s home in the abandoned ruins of a plantation slave house.
Pink’s mother, Moe Moe Bay, kindly nursed Say back to health. In the time it took for Say to recover, the boys spent a lot of time together and, by getting to know each other, a deep and binding friendship grew between them. But the boys knew that their presence in Moe Moe’s home was dangerous for them and they were putting her at risk. Pink’s mother tried to persuade them not to return to the battlefields, but they were determined to prepare to go back and join the war.
Unfortunately, Confederate ‘marauders’ discovered the house on the plantation and Pink’s mother was killed. The boys had been hiding in a cellar otherwise that would have been their fate too. With heavy hearts they start to make their way back to join the fight for the Union, but the boys are were caught and punished for being deserters. Because he was a black man. Pink was executed and Say was jailed in Andersonville prison.
By some good fortune, Say survived the awful ordeal, and after his release, he managed to have a family and live a long life. He re-told the story many times and it was passed on from one generation to the other. Eventually the author, Patricia Polacco came to hear the story of Say, her great-great-grandfather and his dear friend, Pink. And that is how Pink and Say came to be the wonderful children’s book that we can enjoy today. Being a true story adds to the strong emotions which the reader experiences, but the author’s sensitive and masterful craftsmanship make it a book that you and your child will remember and treasure.