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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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1,7392554,070 (4.41)8



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Showing 1-5 of 253 (next | show all)
I liked this booked for several reasons. First, I really enjoyed the main character, Henry. His journey was believable and really touched my heart. For example, when he lost his family it broke my heart. Henry had heavy worries about his family being sold. This extremely hurt me because I couldn't imagine having to worry about losing my family in that way. Then he had to watch them being taken away from him. He had no control over the situation. Henry's hardships really made me emotional. The second reason I enjoyed this book was because of the writing and illustrations. I thought the writing was very organized and it flowed nicely. I had a great time reading and following along with the story line. The illustrations really went well with the text. For example, when Henry was in the box, you could visually see how uncomfortable he was inside the box. Also another example, is when he was planning his trip, you could visually see how determined he was by the facial expression on his face.The message for this is book is to inform the readers about the hardships of slavery and overcoming hardships. ( )
  Rosalindd | Sep 2, 2015 |
This story communicates well that slaves were property and had absolutely no say in their fates, but it just barely scratces the surface. It would not work for older children (middle-school-aged) because it's completely devoid of violence. It does not communicate any of the dangers of either slavery or aiding in a slave's escape, as this slave escapes and lives happily ever after, as does, apparently, the doctor who arranged for his escape. There's no underlying fear of repercussions or abuse, and the slaves seemed to have normal lives except for the fact that their families could be sold or sent away without any notice. The pictures illustrate slaves wearing clothing like "Mammy" wore in "Holiday Inn", and I can recall thinking when I watched that movie that slaves were happy family members who took care of housework. Since that's the impression one is left with after reading this book, it's almost completely useless except for lightly touching the surface of the concepts of slavery for young children (grades 1-3, perhaps?). I do have to admit that I wished I could enjoy the story more and be less critical, but the fact that I just read "NightJohn" didn't help. ( )
  engpunk77 | Aug 10, 2015 |
This book could be used with all age students. It could help kids better understand what it was to be a slave and the Underground Railroad. You could bring in a box and have a child get inside and imagine conditions the slave in the story faced. Caldecott and ALA Notable awards.
  JohnsonTam | Jul 25, 2015 |
Summary: Based on a true story, Henry is a slave that is sold away from his family as a child when his master is sick and dying. Henry grows up working in his new master’s factory. One day he meets Nancy, another slave, who is shopping for her mistress in town. A few months later, Henry and Nancy got married with the approval of their masters. They lived together and had three children. When Nancy’s master loses a great deal of money her and Henry fear that their master will sell their children. The next day while Henry was at work, his greatest fears came true. His wife and children were being sold at the slave market. Henry rushed to town at lunch time trying to find his children. Just as he arrived, his family disappeared down the road. After a few weeks, Henry decided that he wanted to be free. With the help of James and Dr. Smith, a white man against slavery, they came up with a way for Henry to gain his freedom. Henry brought a box and decided he would mail himself to a place where there are no slaves. Henry would be delivered to friends in Philidelphia. The next day Henry climbed into the box to be mailed away. Henry was lifted up and thrown around and around for hours. He was put on a steamboat, and dared not to make a sound, for he feared someone would hear him. Finally Henry arrived in Philidelphia and he was finally free. After the day he arrived in Philidelphia, everyone called him Henry “box” Brown.
Personal Reaction: The thought of slavery has always been awful to me. Henry’s struggle to freedom was an amazing story. I’m surprised that anyone could stay in such a small space for so long. I guess if was between having your freedom or having the life of a slave anybody would do what Henry did.
Extension Ideas: 1. You could bring a box the same size as Henry”s box and have the kids go in the box to see what it was like for Henry to be in it.
2. Show a map to the class to show how far Henry had to travel.
  Alicia917934 | Jul 17, 2015 |
I would use this in conjunction with "Unspoken" to talk about POV. ( )
  nickietravis | Jul 5, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 253 (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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