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Henry's Freedom Box by Ellen Levine

Henry's Freedom Box

by Ellen Levine

Other authors: Kadir Nelson (Illustrator)

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This beautifully illustrated biography captures the life of one of the most prominent slaves to escape along the Underground Railroad, known as Henry “Box” Brown. His story made the headlines in America and Europe in the mid-1800’s. The story takes the reader through Henry’s journey and struggles as a slave, both as a young boy and through his adulthood. He received his middle name, “Box”, after he shipped himself in a box to Pennsylvania to escape slavery and become a free man.

Personal Reaction:
I enjoyed the book and the illustrations. I found the story captivating. I think the author did an excellent job of exploring Henry’s emotional state throughout his struggles as a slave. His perseverance and determination for freedom are inspiring. I think this book would an excellent source for introducing the topic of slavery in the classroom.

Classroom Extension Ideas:
1. I could incorporate this book into a history lesson about slavery and the Underground Railroad.
2. Using a vocabulary list, I could quiz the students on the content of the book with a fill-in-the-blank worksheet.
  Stacie_Larsen | Nov 18, 2015 |
This book is about a young slave boy that does not have any record of himself, age,birthday etc. This young man dreams of being free. This books take you on his journey as a young boy and so forth. This book is very emotional yet inspiring. It is winner of the Caldecott Honor in 2008, and Comstock Read Aloud honor Book in 2008. The lexile level AD380L. Interest level grades 3-5. ( )
  ktboyd | Nov 16, 2015 |
In this book it was the story about one of the most famous runaways of the underground railroad. henry once had a good master where his mom lived too, but one day everything changed. He was giving away to a new master. He finally meet someone he loved and they had children, but issues were arising. He went to work one morning and was told that his family had been sold. He ran into town and saw them being hauled away. After sobbing he had an idea to become free. He with the help of others would ship himself to a free state. He then became famous because it was on of the more brilliant ideas to arise.
I liked this book because it tells the truth about how slaves were split up and beat in a simple way for children to understand. The book made me want to cry, but it overall had a good ending. It kept me thinking was he going to get caught, how did he survive, he had to be smelly! I would recommend this book for opening the door for discussion about slavery.
An extension could be showing the news paper that was published about Henry and what peoples reactions were. Another extension could be listing some of his accomplishments that he did when he became free. Such as did he look for his past family, did he look for his mom, or what job did he get. ( )
  hollym0714 | Oct 27, 2015 |
Henry's Freedom Box is a children's book with very detailed illustrations and a historic story line. I give this book a five star rating because it is a great read that introduces young readers into the life of a salve. The story boy named Henry. In the beginning of the book Henry is being sold to a new master and is unsure of how to react. Of course he misses his family and is sad, but as the story progresses it shows Henry as a grown man with a family of his own. He and his wife have three children together and while Henry is away at work, his wife and children are sold. This devastates Henry. Soon after Henry decided to try to escape and finds a man who helps ship him away as mail. He arrives at his destination and becomes a freeman.
This book touches base with the real life effects of slavery but does not go into too much detail about how he felt and the repercussions, which is why it is a great introduction to slavery. Teachers can use this book as a history lesson or as a multicultural lesson. ( )
  tnelson12 | Oct 8, 2015 |
HENRY'S FREEDOM BOX by Ellen Levine is a true story about a man named Henry and his journey out of slavery. The story starts with Henry as a child when is he separated from his family and sold to a different master. Under this new master he is forced to work in a tobacco factory where the overseer would beat the slaves if they made a mistake. After being in this new place for a while, Henry meets a girl named Nancy, another slave. With the permission of their masters, Henry and Nancy get married a few months later and have three children. Then all of a sudden Nancy's master loses a lot of money and as a result sells Nancy and their kids at the slave market. Henry never sees his family again. After this point, Henry becomes determined to set himself free. With the help of two friends, Henry devises a plan to mail himself in a box to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His plan is successful and, after a long journey, Henry emerges from the box a free man. I think this amazing story of Henry's perseverance and determination for freedom is a great introduction to the topic of slavery for young children. It depicts many of the aspects and hardships of life as a slave, though it doesn't go into great detail about the suffering and atrocities slaves were forced to endure. That's why I think this book is better for younger kids. However, it can inspire more in-depth discussion on what life would have been like as a slave. I like the way most of the illustrations fill up the whole page and then the text is placed somewhere within the picture. If I were to use this book in the classroom I would incorporate a mulitmodal approach to it. After reading the story out loud with the class, I would split students into small groups and have them identify each part of the story they felt was pivotal in Henry's life. Next I would have the group choose one of these moments and create a still-life tableau to illustrate this scene. Once they've had some time to prepare, we would go around the room and each group would share their tableau and the other groups would try to interpret what moment was being depicted. At the end, we would have a whole class discussion about which events they had thought were most pivotal in Henry's life and why they thought this. ( )
  mmiller28 | Oct 7, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 258 (next | show all)
Levine (Freedom's Children) recounts the true story of Henry Brown, a slave who mailed himself to freedom. Thanks to Nelson's (Ellington Was Not a Street) penetrating portraits, readers will feel as if they can experience Henry's thoughts and feelings as he matures through unthinkable adversity. As a boy, separated from his mother, he goes to work in his new master's tobacco factory and eventually meets and marries another slave, with whom he has three children. In a heartwrenching scene depicted in a dramatically shaded pencil, watercolor and oil illustration, Henry watches as his family—suddenly sold in the slave market—disappears down the road. Henry then enlists the help of an abolitionist doctor and mails himself in a wooden crate "to a place where there are no slaves!" He travels by horse-drawn cart, steamboat and train before his box is delivered to the Philadelphia address of the doctor's friends on March 30, 1849. Alongside Henry's anguished thoughts en route, Nelson's clever cutaway images reveal the man in his cramped quarters (at times upside-down). A concluding note provides answers to questions that readers may wish had been integrated into the story line, such as where did Henry begin his journey? (Richmond, Va.); how long did it take? (27 hours). Readers never learn about Henry's life as a free man—or, perhaps unavoidably, whether he was ever reunited with his family. Still, these powerful illustrations will make readers feel as if they have gained insight into a resourceful man and his extraordinary story. Ages 4-8. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

added by sriches | editPublisher's Weekly, Reed Business Information

Gr 2–5—Inspired by an actual 1830s lithograph, this beautifully crafted picture book briefly relates the story of Henry "Box" Brown's daring escape from slavery. Torn from his mother as a child, and then forcibly separated from his wife and children as an adult, a heartsick and desperate Brown conspired with abolitionists and successfully traveled north to Philadelphia in a packing crate. His journey took just over one full day, during which he was often sideways or upside down in a wooden crate large enough to hold him, but small enough not to betray its contents. The story ends with a reimagining of the lithograph that inspired it, in which Henry Brown emerges from his unhappy confinement—in every sense of the word—and smiles upon his arrival in a comfortable Pennsylvania parlor. Particularly considering the broad scope of Levine's otherwise well-written story, some of the ancillary "facts" related in her text are unnecessarily dubious; reports vary, for instance, as to whether the man who sealed Henry into the crate was a doctor or a cobbler. And, while the text places Henry's arrival on March 30, other sources claim March 24 or 25. Nelson's illustrations, always powerful and nuanced, depict the evolution of a self-possessed child into a determined and fearless young man. While some of the specifics are unfortunately questionable, this book solidly conveys the generalities of Henry Brown's story.—Catherine Threadgill, Charleston County Public Library, SC
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
added by sriches | editSchool Library Journal, Catherine Threadgill

» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ellen Levineprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Nelson, KadirIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Book description
Voici l'histoire étonnante d'Henri Brown , l'esclave noir qui a réussi à s'enfuir clandestinement du Sud des États - Unis de la plus originale des façons ...
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 043977733X, Hardcover)

A stirring, dramatic story of a slave who mails himself to freedom by a Jane Addams Peace Award-winning author and a Coretta Scott King Award-winning artist.

Henry Brown doesn't know how old he is. Nobody keeps records of slaves' birthdays. All the time he dreams about freedom, but that dream seems farther away than ever when he is torn from his family and put to work in a warehouse. Henry grows up and marries, but he is again devastated when his family is sold at the slave market. Then one day, as he lifts a crate at the warehouse, he knows exactly what he must do: He will mail himself to the North. After an arduous journey in the crate, Henry finally has a birthday -- his first day of freedom.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:50 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

A fictionalized account of how in 1849 a Virginia slave, Henry "Box" Brown, escapes to freedom by shipping himself in a wooden crate from Richmond to Philadelphia.

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Average: (4.41)
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