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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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1,9953463,371 (4.45)14



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Summary: Henry at first thought himself content in life. He had a job, a wife, and beautiful children. But his seeming safety and happiness are shattered when his wife and children are sold away. So Henry takes a risky and bold action and mails himself all the way to freedom.

Critique/Review: I really enjoyed this book because it shed light on the desperate lengths many went to in order to obtain freedom. It sheds perspective on the horrors of slavery that go beyond physical work and punishment. It shows how people had no control over their fates or the fates of their loved ones and how an entire family could be ripped apart at a moment's notice.

Activity/Craft Elements: Set up a box with the same dimensions mentioned in Henry's story and have students climb in or sit beside it for perspective. Offer the following prompt. How do you think Henry felt inside his box? ( )
  lmguest | Dec 9, 2016 |
This book is based on a true story of Henry Brown and the underground railroad. It deals with slavery in realistic terms but not in such detail that it is too much for young minds. I think this book would be good in a unit dealing with the topic of slavery. This story would be great for talking about the ingenious ways the underground railroad got slaves to freedom. ( )
  Alangenberg | Dec 8, 2016 |
Henry has spent his whole life as a slave and has faced many trials during his lifetime. This has included being torn away from his family and being forced to work in hard environments. Henry receives the opportunity to escape the life as a slave by being put into a box referred to as a freedom box. Will Henry make it to be free or will he be caught in the process? Read and find out!

This story tells of the atrocities that happened to people of color during the time of slavery, but in a manner that is not too graphic for children. It tells of the hardships and the things that slaves had to go through and the social injustice. This is a great story to accompany a social studies lesson.

An activity that I would do with this story is I would recreate the box that Henry had to travel in and let the students experience having to sit in the box. It would give a real example of what the character went through in the story. ( )
  kmedwa4950 | Dec 1, 2016 |
This was a very interesting book! I really liked how it included historical facts, but it is write like a story- not like a text book. I also liked that the story started off as Henry being a young boy- this gives students something to relate to.
Many people commented that they did not like the books ending because he was not reunited with hi family. I liked this because it show that life does not always have a happy ending, and slavery was not a goo thing that happened in our history. ( )
  AmberHester | Nov 15, 2016 |
I love the message behind this book as well as how it touches on slavery topics. However, I felt that this book was rather abrupt with its plot. I wanted to know more about what happened to his wife and kids, but they were taken and never mentioned again. I would recommend this book to be read when learning about slavery, but I would incorporate other texts as well to ensure that multiple topics are taught (as this book is very simple with some of its subjects). ( )
  celutz8191 | Nov 13, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 345 (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 editionscalculated
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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