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Monday, October 16, 2017

Pink and Say by Patricia Polacco

Pink and SayNot all picture books are for preschoolers.  One of my favorite things is to find a good picture book that is appropriate for older kids.  The one I chose this month is Pink and Say by Patricia Polacco.  This wonderful book is an account of two real-life Civil War soldiers, both only about 15 years old, Pinkus Aylee (Pink) who was black, and Sheldon Russell Curtis (Say) who was white.  Both were fighting for the Union, but were in danger of being captured by Southern troops.

The story starts when Pink, who had gotten separated from his company, finds Say, who had been seriously wounded in the leg.  Pink saves Say's life by carrying him home to his mother, Moe Moe Bay, who nurses Say back to health.  The remainder of the story is heartbreaking, and even though I've read this book several times it still brings tears to my eyes.  It does not have the usual happy ending that most picture books have, but it is important because of the lessons it teaches -  hard lessons about war and injustice, but also lessons about love and humanity.

The illustrations are vivid and emotional, which enhance the story and its many messages.

At one point in the story Say tells of how he once shook Abraham Lincoln's hand.  When he and Pink were saying their final good-byes, Pink reaches out to Say and says, "Let me touch the hand that touched Mr. Lincoln, Say, just one last time."  It's a very powerful moment that is explained further on the last page of the story.  I am honored that I'm among the thousands of people who has since "touched the hand that touched the hand that touched the hand....of Mr. Lincoln."

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