Picture Books

Pink and Say

Picture book. By Patricia Polacco. 1994. 48 pages.
The narrative of two young boys who meet and help each other during the Civil War. For upper elementary.

Time Periods: 19th Century, 1850
Themes: Racism & Racial Identity, Slavery and Resistance, Wars & Related Anti-War Movements

pinkandsayThe story of the friendship between a wounded white Union soldier from the Ohio 24th Unit and the formerly enslaved Union soldier in the 48th Colored Unit. Polacco treats the complexities of race and class with tremendous grace. Say, when he is wounded and is found by Pink, reflects that he “had never seen a man like him so close before. His skin was the color of polished mahogany. He was flyin’ Union colors, like me.”

The fact that Pink, who has been enslaved, can read while Say cannot provides a counterexample to the narrative of white people teaching African-Americans to read. Say’s use of late nineteenth century, rural diction (“a powerful long way,” “it were near Washington”) provides a springboard for discussion on dialects and how language becomes “standardized.” Pink and Say can anchor lessons on segregation, the Civil War, military history, and oral/family history.

ISBN: 9780399226717 | Philomel/Penguin Group