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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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1,8132703,859 (4.42)8



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Story of man who mailed himself to freedom. He was a slave who lost his family.
  hannahboeger | Feb 5, 2016 |
This is an emotional story that tugs at your heart strings. It is about a boy Henry, who grew up as a slave and dreams of simple luxuries and becoming free. He becomes a husband and father. Henry’s family is ripped away, but his pain becomes his driving force for freedom. He enlists the help of a trusted friend, and he mails himself in a box to a free state. He makes it and is a free man! This is such an amazing and inspiring story. The illustrations add depth and texture and create such a connection with the reader. This book offers the tragic reality of the life of a slave, but it is written on a simplistic level that a young reader can understand. This true story sheds a beacon of light on the “underground railroad” and the measures that one would go to be free. ( )
  JanaeCamardelle | Feb 3, 2016 |
Henry's Freedom Box is a well written and illustrated story of a slave who seeks freedom. This story shows the mistreatment of Blacks by Whites in the early 1900's. This book would best suit students from grade 3-5. You could connect it to history lessons of slavery and injustice, asking students to make inquiries about how it may have been to live in that era. You could investigate cases of people that lived as slaves and compare/contrast to current student life. You could investigate the effects of being placed upside down (as Henry was) for long periods of time - why this makes our heads swell. The most important message of this story is the injustice blacks had to face in the early 1900's. ( )
  Isaacwinton | Feb 3, 2016 |
Henry's Freedom Box is an inspiring story of a slave named Henry. This book would be perfect to be read in all classrooms. It is great for younger audiences because it gives them a background of slaves that is age appropriate. This book starts with Henry, as a little boy, and his mother being separated when his original master gets ill. He goes to work for his master's son at a tobacco factory. When he is older he meets a lady, Nancy, and they get married with the permission of their masters. They are lucky enough to be able to live together. They have kids, but Nancy knows something bad might happen soon. One day while Henry is at work, he hears that his wife and children have been sold. He gets out of work in juts enough time to see them being driven away in a cart. Knowing he would never see his family again, Henry was devastated. Weeks later, Henry decided he wanted to be free. With the help of his friend James and Dr. Smith, who was a white man who thought slavery was wrong, he was able to become free. He got into a crate and pretended to be mail heading for Philadelphia. For most of the journey Henry was turned upside down, but he never gave up. He fell asleep until he heard a knock and his name being called. He had arrived in Philadelphia and was now a free man. The illustrations depict exactly what is said in the book. The pictures add a background so the reader is able to know the scene. The illustrations show the detail on the people fails and truly show the emotion of Henry. We see Henry grow up throughout the book. I think this was a fantastic book with great illustrations. I recommend everyone to read this. ( )
  mamontgomery | Jan 26, 2016 |
This would be a great book to bring to life the stories children may have heard about slavery and the Underground Railroad. I believe children would clearly understand the devastating lives of slaves and their struggle for freedom. The illustrations effectively carry the reader through the story.
  Tracie_Shepherd | Jan 22, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 270 (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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