Pink and Say
Author: Patricia Polacco
Reviewed by Fran Lewis
In the middle of a blood-soaked pasture fifteen-year-old Sheldon Russell Curtis was left to die. Unconscious, afraid, in dire pain he went in and out of consciousness until someone would come and change his life forever. Out of nowhere came a vision or image of a man with dark mahogany skin that stood over him and took hold of the situation. Pinkus Aylee was a hero of a different type. He fought the same war as Sheldon did, who touched the hand of an American President, yet never received the tribute he deserved for fighting for the same freedoms many still are hoping for today.
Say was shot by the Confederate Army and left to die but that is only the beginning. The story of two young men of different races who find their way to put color lines aside and become friends is endearing. Pink, a black soldier separated from his unit drags Say home. As they bond and talk about their lives it becomes evident that Say is a deserted and left his unit. Pink wants to return to the battlefield and fight for freedom. But, what happens is not always what you want or expect. The pictures bring the story home and allow the reader to become closer to the characters as she shows two African Americans touching the hand that once touched that of Abraham Lincoln.
Fighting during the Civil War these two men fought to bring freedom to many who were enslaved and lived in fear for their lives. As Pinkus Aylee carries Sheldon to the safety of his mother’s home he puts more than just himself in danger as you learn how these two young men became friends and more than just two soldiers that met during a war.
Moe Moe Bay is Pink’s mother who takes care of both young boys keeping them safe and hoping they will heal and not go back into the line of fire. But, fate steps in and things change as the Pink decides it is time to leave but not before relating to Say how he learned to read, the pride he took in learning to read and the hope that one day he would teach Say. Telling how he touched the hand of Abraham Lincoln and relating it to Pink bonded them even more. But, when Moe Moe Bay learned that they were leaving she did her best to protect them but fate stepped and their destiny sealed. Marauders came and what happens next will endear you to both boys and bring tears as it did to this reviewer’s eyes when you learn the final fate of Moe Moe Bay and the two young soldiers. But, as Say is recovering and about to rejoin his unit, marauders show up and Moe Moe Bay risks her life placing them in her root cellar and not telling anyone they are there. But, her fate was sealed and unfortunately so was that of Pink and Say.
When trying to find their unit both young men are captured by the Confederates and imprisoned. Sent to Andersonville prison noted for its harsh and inhumane treatment what happens to both young men is an example of what should never have happened back then or today. The color of one boy’s skin brought him one fate and the color of the other a different one although horrific.
An ending that you will have to read for yourself and the fate of two young men that deserved more than what fate dealt them. Pinkus Say’s fate you need to read for yourself and Sheldon when released from prison weighed a mere 78 pounds. The sadness lies in what happened to Pinkus and the reason behind.