Title & Author: Pink and Say by Patricia Polacco
Reflection of the book: This book is about two boys, Pink and Say, who are both soldiers “flying Union colors,” who befriend each other in the midst of the Civil War. Pink finds Say, wounded and hurt, and takes him home where he and his mother nurse him back to health. However, knowing that they are putting Pink’s mother in danger by staying there, they decide to leave. One step too late, though, and the marauders come to their house. Pink’s mother hides the two boys in her cellar, and ends up being killed. The two boys run off, only to be captured by Confederate soldiers; they are separated, never to see each other again.
I like the book because of the strong friendship the two boys had between each other, despite the time period when many people disapproved of interracial friendships. Also, the book falls into the genre of historical fiction – the story was passed down to the author, Patricia Polacco, from generations past. It is a friendship that the “real” Pink believed was important and influential enough to pass down to his children, and a story Polacco believed was important enough to put into print.
How would you use the book?
I would use this book within a genre study of friendship, historical fiction, an author study or even a history unit on the Civil War. The book is high in content material, so would be suitable even for 3rd or 4rth grade. However, the illustrations are great that even a younger audience would appreciate the book.
For a historical fiction unit, this book can be used as a read aloud (though it may be best to only read parts of the book at a time due to its length) to introduce historical fiction. Students can discuss what elements they see that are different from what they know. Students can also see how there are historical elements placed into the book, and that they need to have at least a small understanding of those historical elements to fully understand the book. In a historical unit, this book can demonstrate how segregation and war affected people. Students can read the book with a greater understanding of the life and hardships during that time. Students may even be able to better relate to the book, as the main characters are young in age.
How does it fall into the domains of SJE?
This book addresses “Respect for Others.” The book demonstrates how Pink, an African American, went out of his way to rescue and bring Say, a White soldier, back to his home. The two characters in the book did not let color and differences hinder them from developing a strong friendship.
This book addresses “Exploring Issues of Social Justice.” At the end of the book, when Pink and Say are separated, the author states Pink was hanged a few hours after he was separated from Say, whereas Say was placed into a jail for the remainder of the war. If Pink had been White, would he have been placed into a jail cell, and bypassed death? Most likely. Students will begin to gain an understanding of the forms of oppression between races from reading this book, and will see why those factors led to the Civil War.
What curricular units does it connect to? Friendship, Historical Fiction