I take great pleasure in reading any book which chronicles this particular time period in American history; Ellen Levine’s book did not disappoint me! Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad is based on the real life experiences of Henry “Box” Brown. Henry was a slave who mailed himself in a box to the North to obtain his freedom. He got his nickname, “box”, because of his extraordinary journey to be free.
As a young boy, Henry was sold and separated from his mother. His new owner had a tobacco factory where Henry worked. As the story goes, Henry eventually married and had a family, but once again, the auction block intervened and he was stripped of his family for the second time in his life.
I feel that this book would be an excellent addition to any classroom collection and/or school media center. Through this book, young readers can learn about slavery along with its hardships and uncertainties, as well as courage, tenacity, and resourcefulness in the face of adversity.
In Henry’s Freedom Box, author, Ellen Levine, has exquisitely used the written word to describe an imaginative man with an unbelievable story. Adding to this, Kadir Nelson’s stunning illustrations help the reader to feel Henry’s experiences. I would recommend this book as an appropriate instructional tool for upper grade (intermediate) students.
Ellen Levine is also the author of Freedom’s Children.
Kadir Nelson is also the illustrator of Ellington Was Not a Street.