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Henry's Freedom Box by Ellen Levine
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Henry's Freedom Box

by Ellen Levine

Other authors: Kadir Nelson (Illustrator)

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Showing 1-5 of 208 (next | show all)
In Henry's Freedom Box, Henry was born a slave, Henry and his siblings worked in the "big house" for his master -- who, on his deathbed, gave Henry to his son. During the years he worked for the son in his tobacco warehouse, Henry grew and married a girl who was enslaved by a neighbor. They had a family, but his wife accurately discerned that her master had debts that might cause him to sell his slaves. This was done one day while Henry was working. After weeks of despair, Henry had an idea while he was moving a crate. He would mail himself to freedom.This is based on a true story. I think it was a good book and would be great in a classroom during black history month. ( )
  melthompson | Apr 22, 2014 |
I had heard how great of a story this was, but I did not read it until now. I not only enjoyed this book, but it really pulls at the heartstrings. You hear the true story about a slave, Henry, who wanted his freedom so badly that he shipped himself in a box to freedom. The word choice the author uses really conveys good emotions and makes you feel the hardships Henry went through. For example, “He poked the boy with a stick. If you made a mistake, the boss would beat you.” Or “Henry twisted tobaccos leaves. His heart twisted in his chest.” All the word choice in this story makes you feel bad for what Henry, and every slave, had to endure. You aren’t only learning about Henry, but you’re also learning about what all slaves had to deal with during this time period. The illustrations were drawn with dull and plain colors, which adds to the emotions as well. It gives you a sense of sorrow and hardships. Most of the backgrounds were black and the expressions on Henry’s face were always gloomy. I really loved the picture of the man sitting on top of the box that Henry was squished inside. It really shows you the conditions Henry had to sit in the entire trip, but he knew it was worth it for his freedom. The big idea of this story is to teach you about Henry’s experience and slaves experiences. It was also to show how important freedom is even though we may take it for granted. It is a story of determination and hope. ( )
  SaraColvin | Apr 10, 2014 |
This is an amazing story, it starts out with a little boy named Henry Brown, he is a slave child. He never knew his birthday because, slaves were not allowed to know their birthdays. One day his master became very ill and decided to give him to his son, Henry had to work in a tobacco factory. One day Henry met Nancy another slave, they decided to get married and both of their slave owners agreed. Not long after they were married they have a baby, then another, and another, Nancy was very afraid that their children would be sold as slaves, one day their worst fear came true, even Nancy was sold. Henry didn't know what to do, he knew that he wanted to be free. One day he visited Dr. Smith a white man that was against slavery, Henry asked him to help him to escape to freedom. Dr. Smith built a box and shipped Henry to William H. Johnson in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Henry was tossed from a steam boat to a railroad car and 350 miles later he made it to his destination. He was finally free and he had his first birthday on March 30, 1849. He was known as the most famous runaway slave on the under ground railroad, he became Henry "Box" Brown.

Personal Reaction- After I read this story I was very sad because of the way he was treated throughout his life, thankfully he finally reached freedom. I can't imagine losing my husband and children for any reason.

Classroom Extension- I would show the children a video clip of Henry's Freedom Box.
I would explain to the children why Henry had to hide in a box and be mailed to another state.
  mamacita9 | Apr 8, 2014 |
Summary- Henry was a slave who was taken away from his family as a child. He grew up, got married, and had children. One day his wife and children were taken away. All Henry wanted was to be free. With the help of a northern white man, Henry mails himself to freedom.

Personal Reaction- It is so sad that not once but twice Henry was separated from his family. I also couldn't imagine the courage it took for Henry to try to leave slavery and the courage it took for the white man to help him.

Extensions-
1) Visit a post office to see how the mail system works.
2) Write a narrative as if they were Henry telling about how it was to travel all that way in a box.
  megblack | Mar 26, 2014 |
Summary:
This book is about a little boy named Henry Brown. He is a young slave who does not even know his birthday. His family was sold at the slave market. He worked at a warehouse and decided he would put himself in the crate and shit himself to the north to be free. When he arrives his dreams come true and he is free at last.

Personal Reaction:
This book really touched me. We read about slaves in our history books, but to read what this little boy did just to have freedom is amazing. This would be good for children to read and hear because it teaches them that things were not always great and people had to make huge sacrifices just to be free.

Classroom Extension Idea:
In the classroom we could discuss the historic events that took place in order for all races to be equal. We could watch a video of these events.
  juliana63012 | Mar 25, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 208 (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
This is the true story of Henry "Box" Brown's life growing up as a slave and how he use the underground railroad to escape slavery.  Henry doesn't know his birthday and when he was a little boy, he was sold to a different master.  Separated from his family, Henry grows up working in a tobacco factory.  Henry meets and marries Nancy; for a time they live happily together with their three children.  After Nancy and the children are sold, Henry falls into a state of despair until a singing bird inspires freedom in his heart.  Henry gets the help of several friends, and mails himself to freedom in a box.  This story is gentle glimpse into the hardships endured by slaves and the extremes of what individuals will do for freedom.   I believe young readers can relate to not knowing their birthday or the lose of family.
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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:51:36 -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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