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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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I liked this book for two main reasons. This is one of my favorite books I have read yet for many reasons. This book is about a man named Henry who is a slave, throughout the book we see obstacles that he faces as a salve. But he eventually finds a way to escape slavery and it is a creative way. I really like the plot and the characters. I liked the plot of the story a lot because it was a true story, but I also liked the plot because it was suspenseful. I wanted to keep reading the book to see how it ended, but I was never able to predict what would happen next. The plot showed real problems that slaves face and I think that is important for students to understand. On every page, there was something exciting happening. On page 14, Henry gets married and that was a huge step for him. The plot showed his true struggles and accomplishments and it is important to see both sides. But I also liked the book because of the characters. The characters were very believable and well developed. Henry, the main character, is portrayed as a slave with a lot of courage. Henry faces a lot of obstacles throughout the book but he constantly works through all of them. The main character shows courage throughout the book and eventually he finds a creative way to escape slavery. I think that the main message of this story is to never give up on your dreams no matter how big the obstacle may be. Henry never gave up on his dream of being a free man and he eventually accomplished that. Henry faced a huge obstacle but he never gave up on his dream.
  chunt8 | Mar 26, 2017 |
Henry’s Freedom Box, is a heartfelt story about the life of a boy named Henry, who is a slave. Henry was born into slavery, and lives and works with his mother at their master’s house. One day Henry’s master falls ill, and tells Henry that he will now be working for his son; Henry leaves his mother and begins working for the master’s son. Later Henry falls in love with another slave, and once they get the approval, they are married and eventually have three sons together. As the story progresses, Henry learns that his wife and his children were sold to another slave owner, and that he will never see them again. It is then that he develops a plan to become a free man. With the help of his white friend, Henry builds himself a box, that he later ships himself to Philadelphia, where he becomes a free man at last.

Personal Review:
Henry’s Freedom Box, is a touching and emotional story; it had me in tears while reading. The beautiful illustrations help to catch the emotion that the author is trying to convey. I was impressed with the how realistic the story was to what the slave trading days were like; it is important for children to be aware of how life was really like for a slave. This story is brilliantly written and illustrated, and I have added it onto my classroom wish list.
Extension Ideas:
Slavery is a very heavy subject for students to learn, its heavy for an adult to talk about. After reading the story to the students, one activity I would do would be creative journal time. Each student will receive their own journal, and in it I will ask them to describe how the book and made them feel. They will be able to emotionally express how learning about slavery affected them, as well as ask any questions they may have. Writing out our feelings, can help us to understand the concept a little deeper. Another great activity that I will do as a class, is to do a character analyses on Henry. Together we will brainstorm different character traits that describe Henry, and what their importance are to the story. ( )
  KaylaRoseDyer | Mar 26, 2017 |
this book is about a young salve who got separated from his mother at a young age due to the death of his slave owner. Henry found a woman, started a family and his wife and two children were sold to someone else away from him. Then a white man by the name of Dr.Smith saved henry's life and freedom by shipping him to Philadelphia in a wooden box. i really liked this story because slavery is a very important part of history that children should learn and understand. ( )
  shaelyn_smith | Mar 26, 2017 |
Genre: Historical Fiction
Media: colored pencil
Age Appropriateness: primary, intermediate
Review: This is a book that talks about the story of Henry and what he went through as a slave. As a child he got separated from his mom and sent to work for his masters son. While there he met a young women and married her (with the consent of their masters) and they had children. One day at work his wife and kids were sold at a slavery auction and by the time he knew what had happened he could not save his family. It was then that he decided to go to a white man in the community who did not believe in slavery and get the white man to agree to mail him to Philadelphia. The white man agreed to mail Henry and he made it to Philadelphia a free man finally.
Critique: This is a good historical fiction book because it talks about the lives of slaves and what they go through, through the perspective of a slave so the story is not biased.
  Kmacuk15 | Mar 23, 2017 |
Henry Brown was a slave who was taken from his mother and sent to his master's son to work. When he grew older, Henry met a woman. They instantly click and promise to continue to meet each other. Henry eventually marries this woman, Nancy, and they have 3 children together. One day, however, Henry's wife and children were sold at a slave market. Henry grew less and less happy. He met with a white man who was very much against slavery. They devised a plan to mail Henry in a large box to a place with no slavery. Although the ride was tough, Henry finally made it to Philadelphia, and on March 30th, he was a free man.

I remember reading this book when I was younger. I was so fascinated at how clever of a plan that was. It really made me realize the thirst for freedom during that time.

This can both be used in a reading lesson as well as a history lesson. This really puts it into perspective, especially for young children. The fact that Henry was taken from his mother so young could potentially resonate with kids in my classroom.
  meygyn11 | Mar 21, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 364 (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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Average: (4.45)
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