Monday, May 14, 2012

Pink and Say

Thanks to Samantha, for incorporating standards into a well-written review!
Polacco, P. (1994). Pink and Say. Philomel: New York, NY.

       Pink and Say is the story of two Union soldiers during the Civil War.  Say (short for Sheldon) is a white soldier who gets injured while running away from the army.  Pink is a proud soldier and former slave who finds Say and takes him to Pink’s home to heal.  This is a fantastic picture book to use when teaching about the Civil War since it gives students information about what daily life was like for the soldiers.  I loved this book because it develops the two main characters really well, and you really feel for Pink and Say throughout the whole book.  A word of warning: This book will tug at your heartstrings and can get very sad by the end of the book.  You want to have time to read it all the way through with your students without interruptions, so that they, too, can feel the impact of the ending.

       I would use this picture book with any students learning about the Civil War (5th, 8th, and 11th grades are the ones that teach U.S. History in KY, I believe) to help teach what life was like for the soldiers.  I teach fifth grade, so I would also use this as a reading lesson with Core Content 5.RL.3.  This standard has students comparing two or more characters in a story.  Pink and Say is a great book to use with this standard, as the two title characters have many similarities, but they also have distinct differences.  I would use a Venn diagram with my students that they would add to as I read the book aloud.

       Polacco is the author and illustrator of this book.  The illustrations are similar to those of her other picture books.  They appear to be sketched first, then colored over with paint or watercolors.  The illustrations match the time period.  For example, you can tell that Pink and Say are Union soldiers based on their uniforms.  There are lots of double spreads in this book, where the illustrations stretch from one page to the adjacent page.  This characteristic makes Pink and Say a great book to read aloud with a class.

       There are many literary terms in this picture book.  One is point of view.  The point of view is in first person, from the point of view of Say.  The writing style is also a big part of this book.  Say is uneducated, and as the narrator of the story, that comes across.  In the book, the words that end with –ing only end with –in’.  When you read this aloud, it sounds like Say is really the one talking and telling the story, which makes the story all the more real to the reader.  Another literary term found in this book is conflict.  There is conflict between Mo Mo Boy and the marauders, there is the overarching conflict of the Civil War, and the conflict that Pink and Say experience in the prison camp at the end of the book.

       BIG QUESTIONS:  Even though Pink is a former slave, how is he able to help Say?  Why does Say want to stay away from the war?  Why does Pink want to go back to the war?

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