Pink and Say

by Patricia Polacco

Hardcover, 1994



Call number




Philomel Books (1994), Edition: Illustrated, 48 pages


Say Curtis describes his meeting with Pinkus Aylee, a black soldier, during the Civil War, and their capture by Southern troops. Based on a true story about the author's great-great-grandfather.

Media reviews

Hands and gestures have always been important in Polacco's work. Here they are at the center of a picture book based on a true incident in the author's own family history. It's a story of interracial friendship during the Civil War between two 15-year-old Union soldiers. Say, who is white and poor,
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tells how he is rescued by Pinkus (Pink), who carries the wounded Say back to the Georgia home where Pink's black family were slaves. In a kind of idyllic interlude, Pink and his mother nurse Say back to health, and Pink teaches his friend to read; but before they can leave, marauders kill Pink's mother and drag the boys to Andersonville prison. Pink is hanged, but Say survives to tell the story and pass it on across generations. The figure of Pink's mother borders on the sentimental, but the boys' relationship is beautifully drawn. Throughout the story there are heartbreaking images of people torn from a loving embrace. Pictures on the title and copyright pages show the parallel partings as each boy leaves his family to go to war. At the end, when the friends are wrenched apart in prison, the widening space between their outstretched hands expresses all the sorrow of the war. Then, in a powerful double-page spread, they are able to clasp hands for a moment, and their union is like a rope. Say once shook Lincoln's hand, just as Say held Pink's hand, and Say tells his children, who tell theirs, that they have touched the hand that touched the hand . . .
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1 more
School Library Journal
Gr 4 UpSay, 15, had never seen a black person up close until Pink, also a young Union soldier, saves his life. During his brief stay in Pink's home, the wounded boy comes to understand his friend's unconquerable vision of freedom. A memorable family reminiscence with evocative paintings. (Oct.
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User reviews

LibraryThing member matthewbloome
I don't remember the first time I read this, but I had the chance to relive that first reading experience recently when I observed a class having it read aloud. What an experience! This book truly had a whole class in its grip from page one on. This was a heartbreaking story and I don't know that
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any student left the room unaffected, but I know I was moved. Great storytelling and an ending that made the story all the more powerful. It was like bitter medicine; hard to swallow on the way down, but leaving you much better for having done so afterward.
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LibraryThing member RamiroLongoria
This book takes place during the period of the Civil War in the United States between the Union and the Confederates. A young white male Union soldier named Say had fallen wounded and his life is saved by a young black male Union soldier named Pink. Pink takes Say to his mother house and his mother
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takes care of them until he able to go back out to war. However, in the meantime some marauders came to their hiding place and killed Pinks mother. The two set out back to the war field only to be captured by the Confederate soldiers and imprisoned. Pink does not survive but Say keeps their story of friendship and of Pinks heroicness alive by passing down this story to his children.

This book really touched my heart. There was a lot of emotion throughout the book. For example, when Pink lost his mother, when Pinks mother reassured Say that it was ok to be scared, the friendship that developed between all three of them, and the hand shaking incident that assured the boys some hope. Even though Say dies in the end there is some sort of assurance that he will not be forgotten as the author urges the reader to put the book down and say his name out loud and vow to remember him always. This was one of the best books I read so far.

Once again, this is a book that I would feel obligated to read to a class. There is too much important information in this book that could be used to teach about an ugly part in our American history. However, I would point out that even amid those times that there were those who had hope and died for that hope, which we now can see has taken place and that those who died were not forgotten or in vain. Even if I was not able to read this to the class I would definitely recommend having the class read it for themselves and maybe do a worksheet to accompany it for extra credit or a grade.
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LibraryThing member ShannaThomp08
Memories are events, situations, and experiences that we not only cherish in our minds, but also in our hearts. In the nonfiction, picture book Pink and Say written by Patricia Polacco and published by Philomel books invites readers into a memory about how two young soldiers by the names of Pink
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and Say become close friends in dealing with their personal issues during the time of the Civil War. As Patricia shares her memory of Pink readers are taught about friendship, love, what bravery means, and the value of appreciating the memories of life.
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LibraryThing member sriches
In a true story, Pinkus Aylee, a black Union soldier, finds Sheldon Curtis left for dead and carries him home to be tended by his mother, but when the two boys attempt to rejoin the Union troops, they are captured and sent to Andersonville Prison.
LibraryThing member nancyjensen
Pink and Say are unlikely friends who meet and form a friendship during the Civil War. Both are young soldiers who have been separated from their comrades, one by illness/injury, one by running away. The young runaway learns from his courageous sick friend not only how to read but also how to live
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and die with honor.
Patricia Polacco writes so well about family, friends, personality, places and time periods. I would use this story in the fourth grade as an adjunct book to a social studies unit on the Civil War.
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LibraryThing member hayleyd
This is the best book I've ever read in my life. I hope many people get a chance to read this book. It's heartwarming, honest, and it made me cry. It's about the loving friendship between a black and white man. Check it out some time.
LibraryThing member heather_hill
Pink and Say is a fictional account about two Union soldiers, one white and one black, who form an unlikely friendship when they both get separated from their companies. Say is wounded, and Pink, a former slave, brings him home to his mother to be mended. This story is then recanted through several
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generations of Say's family.

I absolutely love this book! The passages are so descriptive, and the illustrations are impeccable! This story is gut-wrenching and so emotionally raw. I tear up every time I read it.

One extension idea would be to have the students write down a tale that has been passed through several generations of their families. They could then tell the class the particular tale and why it is so important to their families. As a second extension, we could read this book after a unit on the Civil War and as a class, write down Union views and Confederate views, and explain why they are so different.
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LibraryThing member S1BRNSUGAR
Say was wounded and left for dead during the Civil War when Pink, a member of the Union army, finds him and takes him to his mother. He stay in Pink's home, Say undererstand his Pink's vision of freedom. Pictures show parting of each boy leaving their families to go to war. At the end, when the
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friends are torn apart in prison. The widening outstretche of their hands express the sorrow of the war.
This story could be read aloud in an American history class during a unit on the Civil War. It raises questions about courage, war, family, and slavery. Its emotional images bring history alive
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LibraryThing member jessica_cassell18
Pink and Say is a book about the war between the Union and the Maraduars. Say was laying alone in a field injured and sick when Pink, who was also separated from this group, came upon him and took him to his home to care for him. At Pink's home, his mother helped care for Say until he was well
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again and Pink told Say that when he was 100% they had to leave for if the Maradaurs came and found that his mother had been harboring soldiers she would be in trouble. Pink and Say were set to leave when they heard soldiers coming and Pink's mother rushed them into her cellar and she met the soldiers. They ransacked the house and shot Pink's mother. Pink and Say went on their way and ended up being taken to a confederate camp where they were separated. Say was released some 3 months later but the story is that Pink was hanged some 3 hours after being taken away.

This story I thought was very intriguing yet so sad and disgusting. Disgusting in the sense that this is how our world used to be. The wars that had to be fought and the innocent lives that were taken.

A classroom extension I would use would be to have the students write me a story about the one person they consider their hero in their life. Another I would use would be to expand on the history of our nation and explain what used to be compared to what is now.
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LibraryThing member AngelaPrice
This Multicultural Book tells the true story of Pinkus Aylee (Pink) and Sheldon Curtis (Say). Pink finds Say, a fellow Union soldier, wounded in a field and brings him to his mother’s home. A deep friendship develops as Pink’s mother, Moe Moe Bay, nurses Say back to health and protects the boys
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from invading marauders. When Pink and Say attempt to return to their units, they are captured by Confederate soldiers and separated within Andersonville prison. The end of the book describes the cruel fate of Pink and the reason why this book was written.

I wasn’t sure about this book when I picked it up at the library. However, the storyline won me over immediately. This is a wonderful book. I didn’t realize this was a family story of Patricia Polacco’s until I read the information at the end of the book. I was in tears as I read “When you read this, before you put this book down, say his name [Pinkus Aylee] out loud and vow to remember him always.

In the classroom this book could be used to show the young Union soldiers’ points of view while studying the Civil War. It could also be used to illustrate the bonds of friendship and how one person can make an enormous difference in another person’s life. This book would be useful to use to begin a discussion on slavery and segregation
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LibraryThing member knielsen83
I cried my eyes out over this book. I had to read it for my Social Studies class and well.. I just loved it.
LibraryThing member rachaelmcdonald
Pink and Say is a touching story of two boys brought together by the Civil War. Pink , a young black soldier finds Say, a young white soldier, injured , left for dead. Pink carries Say for miles to his mother, Moe Moe Bay’s home. Moe Moe Bay cares for the boys until they are well enough to go
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back to war. Pink is brave and recognizes that going back to war is what he has to do, Say is scared out of his mind and confides in Moe Moe Bay that he feels he is a coward and doesn’t want to go back to the war. Moe Moe Bay promises Say he will be an old man someday. The boys witness Moe Moe Bay’s murder and make a run for it, they are caught and brought to Andersonville, a Confederate camp. The boys are physically pulled away from each other, Say found out later Pink died that same night. Say lived and passed this story on to generation after generation, so Pinkus Aylee will always be remembered for his bravery. This story was so beautiful, how two boys so different were brought together. They were there for each other in the worst of circumstances and became great friends. Their characters were well developed, I could put myself in each of their shoes. It is a tragedy that so many young men died in camps such as Andersonville. So many men never had the chance to get married, have children or grandchildren. This story reminded me of these men who lost their live and all they did for our country.

As a future teacher it will be necessary to teach my students about the Civil War. This is a great story for children to read to introduce the topic. Reading this book could give children a more personal experience of the Civil war. Pink and Say were young men not much older than elementary school students. This book would make children realize what young men had to go through many years ago.

In the story Abraham Lincoln is mentioned on a few occasions. Reading this book to the class would be a great way to introduce Abraham Lincoln and everything he stood for. Children could make a civil war time line or draw pictures of Abraham Lincoln and write famous quotes of his, or important things he stood for.
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LibraryThing member ptnguyen
This is a warm and touching story between the blossoming friendship between two Union soldier boys, Pink and Say. Say, a white soldier, is wounded in a battlefield and is left for dead. Pink, a black soldier and a slave, finds Say and saves his life. Pink brings Say to his home and he is nurtured
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back to health by the gentle and good-hearted, Moe Moe Bay, Pink’s mother.teaches Say to read. Pink However, tragedy strikes when Confederate troops discovers them. These two friends are separated and this is the end of their friendship.
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LibraryThing member klauden
Stories are orally passed down through the generations in this book about the civil war time. I would want to know my students background knowledge of the Civil War before I read. This is a tragic story told of wartime that shows the love and friendship that exists between two young boys fighting
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in a war together. Polacco addresses racial issues, deserting soldiers, fear, love and cruelty throughout the book. It would be interesting to connect this story to other civil war literature. A mini-inquiry, what more do you want to know about the civil war and the time period? Family and bravery issues are strong here. I adore this story and can’t wait to share it.
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LibraryThing member Warnerp
Beautiful color illustrations on every page to accompany the emotional text. Won the 1997 West Virginia Children’s Book Award.
LibraryThing member jgoitein
Based on a true and personal civil war story, which has been passed on from generation to generation and the next by author Patricia Polacco's family, Pink and Say is a somber, well illustrated and powerful tale that will move both a young and adult reader for its poignant tribute to interracial
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friendship. Written in memory of Pinkus Aylee, a young black Union soldier who saved the life of young white Union soldier Sheldon Curtis, this picture book also serves as a reminder of how the horrors of war effect not only the soldiers but the civilians too. As a book of historical fiction, Pink and Say is an excellent book for grades 5 and up to be read during Black History month to illuminated interracial friendship and the personal struggles of African Americans during the Civil War.
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LibraryThing member tpedroza
Two young boys find each other among the fighting fields of the Civil War. Fighting for the North, Say is found badly injured by Pink, who carries him for days and days to the safety of his own home. Say is nursed back to health, only to witness the murder of Pink's mother and then to be captured
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by the Confederate Army. Pink and Say are separated at that point, as racism is still rampant in the South.
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LibraryThing member AuntKrissy
This book won the following awards: West Virginia Children’s Book Award (1997); A Horn Book Fanfare Best Book (1995); Jefferson Cup (1995); Young Hoosier Book Award Nominee (1996-1997 Intermediate, 1996-1997)Irma Simonton Black and James H. Black Award for Excellence in Children's Literature
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(1994). Also available as an audiobook and a download; and in Spanish.
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LibraryThing member acorey
Pink and Say is about the friendship between a white man, Say, and a slave, Pink. Pink saves Say when he becomes injured in battle during the Civil War. Pink's family nurses Say back to health and Say now understands the importance of this war. Although both men become prisoners of the Confederate
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army, Say survives and the story becomes told to his family and depicts the importance of friendship between cultures.

I enjoy multicultural stories and I think it is very important to have friends of all cultures. The Civil War is sometimes misunderstood and this book can help tell one small aspect of the war.

The story can be used when doing lessons on friendship, different cultures, or the Civil War. As I said above, the Civil War can be misunderstood and this book will show how it was not always black versus white.
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LibraryThing member eevers
This is a story of a friendship during the Civil War between an uneducated northern white boy and a literate former slave. It gave me goose-bumps. It is a lengthy story, might be too long for a read aloud.
LibraryThing member brittgeorge
Pink and Say is based on a true story that was passed down to Patricia Polacco. She describes the story just as her grandfather told it. The time is the era of the Civil War, and the two Union boys’ fates cross. Both of the boys are in constant danger, trying to stay safe in the South. Pink takes
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Say under his wing and into his home where a true bond emerges.

This is a story about friendship, courage and the reason for war. Pinkus Aylee (Pink), born into slavery, and Sheldon Curtis (Say) fulfilling his American duty, meet during troubling circumstances, and truly show the meaning of friendship. This book is proof that you cannot judge someone based on the color of their skin. Even though they were fighting for different reasons, they were still in the same war, at each others’ side, protecting one another.
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LibraryThing member ShellyCBuchanan
In this heart-wrenching true story handed down through generations, two boys, one black one white, bond as boy soldiers out of their league in the Civil War --lonely, hurt and afraid. This is the story of how they grow their friendship around the war, and death and finally capture. Polacco
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brilliantly relates this story in her rich language, showing the perspectives of both boys as well one's strong mother. Her glowing watercolor and pastel illustrations bring a richness and warmth to the love, courage and tragedy that is this this piece of history.
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LibraryThing member mitchsar
This children’s picture book is an excellent tool for teaching history and tolerance in the upper grades. Pink and Say are both soldiers in the Union Army, but one is free and one is a slave. Children of all ages will love the beautiful illustrations and can learn from our nation’s history.
LibraryThing member ChristinaWake
Pink and Say is about a young white (Say) and African American (Pink) Union boy caught up in the Civil War. Say is injured in the beginning of the story and is found by Pink. Pink carries him to his home (Pink's) where his mother (Moe Moe Bay) takes care of them. They develop a friendship and lay
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low until the Confederates come. Moe Moe Bay is killed while the boys hid in a cellar. When the coast is clear, they leave to find their troops once more. They eventually get captured and Say is taken to an internment camp while Say is hanged within 2 hours. Say outlives the war and tell this story to his children who then pass down the story until Patricia Polacco hears it and writes about it. I think that it was a very touching story. I would read it in maybe a 3rd grade classroom or higher. It is a good book to have children relate and have an idea of how war affects individuals.
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LibraryThing member JanelleVeith
This is a story that is passed from generation to generation. It is a heart warming story about friends.




Original language


Physical description

11.31 inches


0399226710 / 9780399226717
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