Pink and Say by Patricia Polacco

Pink and Say (1994), written & illustrated by Patricia Polacco is so touching. No, I really mean it. When I first read it, I had no idea what it was going to be about. After I finished I had tears in my eyes. It is so beautiful. This book further reinforced my love of Mrs. Polacco and her books.

It is the story of Patricia Polacco’s great-great grandfather’s (Say) brief friendship with Pinkus Aylee (Pink) during the Civil War.

(Taken directly from wounded attempting to escape his unit, Say is rescued by Pink, who carries him back to his Georgia home where he and his family were slaves. While the frightened soldier is nursed back to health under the care of Pink’s mother, Moe Moe Bay, he begins to understand why his new found friend is so adamant on returning to the war; to fight against “the sickness” that is slavery. However it isn’t until marauders take Moe Moe Bay’s life, that Say is driven to fight. Although ultimately, both boys are taken prisoners of the Confederate Army, fortunately Say survives and was unable to pass along the story of Pink and Say to his daughter Rosa, Patricia Polacco’s great grandmother. As it was told, Pink was hanged just shortly after being taken prisoner, therefore Patricia’s book “serves as a written memory” of him. At the end of the story Patricia bids the reader, “Before you put this book down, say his name (Pinkus Aylee) out loud and vow to remember him always.”
One of the more heartwarming moments of the story is when Say tells Pink and his mother that he once shook the hand of Abraham Lincoln. Convinced that his encounter is a “sign” of hope, Say reaches for Pink’s hand, exclaiming, “Now you can say you touched the hand that shook the hand of Abraham Lincoln!” At the end of the story when the boys are separated, Pink reaches for Say one last time to touch his hand.
After hearing this story from Patricia Polacco in the words of generations preceding, I eagerly touched her hand; the hand that has touched the hand, that has touched the hand…
I can assure you, the hope is still alive!- Leah Polacco

There is a lesson plan on this site for Pink and Say:

I’m going to modify and cut this down into waaay smaller parts for my children.


12 thoughts on “Pink and Say by Patricia Polacco

  1. This is one heartwarming story and never again will i forget it. This book makes me once again think about Rosa parks and Dr.King and it makes me say how black is right to live and that we all can make a big change even if this story did not make a change it showed that all people have respect and never forget it.

    When you are done reading this say the names Pinkus,Sheldon,Dr.King,Rosa Parks and always remember them.
    then say Shaneke and remember my words always.

  2. In the heart-wrenching true story of Civil War valor, a 15-year-old Yankee soldier, Say, alone and bleeding, was dragged to safety by a fellow Union soldier from the Forty-eighth colored regiment. They were ultimately captured and separated, where Say survived to pass the story down through the author’s family. “Unglamorized details of the conventions and atrocities of the Civil War target readers well beyond customary picture book age.”

  3. Beautiful story , which I read every year to 4th graders to help them understand that war is not glorious . I love her stories , can’t seem to get enough of them .

  4. I know what you mean Leda. I read about least 15 books of hers to my class this year. I did not get a chance to read Pink & Say this year, but I definitely read “Thank You Mr. Falker.”

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