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Henry's Freedom Box

4.46  ·  Rating Details ·  10,973 Ratings  ·  1,161 Reviews
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. When Henry grows up and marries, he is again devastated when his family is sold at the slave market. Then one day, as he lifts a crate at the ware ...more
Paperback, 40 pages
Published September 2008 by Scholastic (first published January 1st 2007)
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Justine Discutido Well, I wouldn't call this book bad, but it did set the main virtue of this story which was justice, which was kinda the whole point of the story. And…moreWell, I wouldn't call this book bad, but it did set the main virtue of this story which was justice, which was kinda the whole point of the story. And this book shows a pretty good example of justice to kids. Also this is a good book to show about the Underground Railroad or something about Black History Month.(less)
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Community Reviews

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Mar 01, 2017 Mariah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a phenomenal book that taught about Henry Brown. During slavery he was married and had children, but when their master struggled with money they were sold to a different owner. He escaped slavery by being shipped in a box to Philadelphia.

This book is easy for children to follow a long and has great photos that represent everything that is being said.
Feb 08, 2011 Manybooks rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone, this is a story that needs to be told
This is a book that tugs at all of your emotions. It makes you angry, sad, despairing, happy. Above all, it should make any reasonable, any compassionate human being indignant at the inhumanity of slavery and strive for liberty, justice and equality for all. In fact, I think that Henry's Freedom Box should be required reading in every elementary school classroom, not only in the United States of America, but globally.

The fact that Henry Brown has basically no rights, that slaves were considered

This is another book that I was reading for the Children’s Book Club for Black History Month and I will admit that I just loved this book to death! “Henry’s Freedom Box” is a Caldecott Honor Book by Ellen Levine along with illustrations by Kadir Nelson and it is about a runaway slave named Henry “Box” Brown who thinks of a clever plan to get out of slavery after his family is sold. “Henry’s Freedom Box” is a truly inspiring and dramatic book for children who want to learn more about the horrors
Lisa Vegan
Jan 24, 2011 Lisa Vegan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: a good introduction to slavery & the Underground Railroad for school aged children
I read this as one of six books chosen by the Children's Books group’s Picture Books Club for its February theme of Black History Month.

The subtitle of this book is: A True Story from the Underground Railroad. It’s the true story of Henry “Box” Brown, a man who mailed himself to freedom, to a state where there was no slavery. Before I read this, I thought that it was a historical fiction story; I didn’t realize that this was a true story until I read it. This book is a seamless mix of highly dis
Nov 02, 2011 Julianna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone Wanting to Teach Children about Slavery; Fans of Picture Books with Beautiful Artwork
Recommended to Julianna by: Readers Against Prejudice & Racism
Reviewed for THC Reviews
Henry's Freedom Box is a wonderful storybook for teaching younger children about slavery and the Underground Railroad. It is the true story of Henry “Box” Brown who mailed himself to freedom. Henry's bravery and ingenuity were inspiring to read about. It is very sad that Henry lost his entire family when they were sold and apparently was never reunited with them, but it seems that his pain may have been a driving force in his quest for freedom. He also became an internati
Excellent biography of Henry, a slave who mails himself to freedom with help from white friends on "the underground railroad." I love that it conveyed the issues and emotions so poignantly and powerfully without being too graphic or bogged down. I just felt so in-tune with what Henry was going through--I mean, obviously I have no idea what it must have really been like, but kudos to the author and illustrator for making me feel like I was "there" and that my heart had been on a remarkable journe ...more
Mar 22, 2009 Dolly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
This is an inspirational, amazing and true story, with breathtakingly detailed and expressive illustrations. It is certainly worthy of its Caldecott Honor designation. It's a story that will take you from joy to heartache and back again in a short narrative that will captivate young elementary school-age children. We read this as one of the February 2011 selections for the Picture-Book Club in the Children's Books group here at Goodreads. I am so grateful to have been introduced to this story, a ...more
Crystal Marcos
Feb 15, 2011 Crystal Marcos rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Henry's Freedom Box was a story selection for the Children’s Picture Book Club found here:

First off thank you again to the group for introducing wonderful books I may have otherwise never found! I held this book in my hands for several minutes after I read it. This isn’t a normal practice for me. I fought back tears and feelings of heartbreak at the same time thinking this was a fabulous book. I felt I was living every moment with Henry on his journey to
Oct 18, 2016 Beth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a true story from the Underground Railroad about an African American slave gaining his freedom and the hardships he faces achieving this victory. Henry is a young boy who does not have a birthday. This is no surprise because there were no records of slave’s birthdays. He is torn from his family at a young age and put to work in a warehouse. He soon meets a girl named Nancy and marries her. They have three children and are happy. Henry’s happiness is torn away when his family gets sold in ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Erin Ramai
Henry's Freedom Box: A True Story of the Underground Railroad is appropriate for students in grades 2-5. It received a Caldecott Honor Award in 2008.

It might seem odd, but Kadir Nelson's illustrations for this book reminded me of Brian Selznick's work in The Invention of Hugo Cabret. More than anything, the quality that seems to connect these illustrators in my mind is the crosshatching that adds texture, depth and shadow to the images in both close ups and "wide shots" of the action. To me, Nel
Kathy Roderer
Sep 20, 2009 Kathy Roderer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: picture-books
This true story of the time of the Underground Railroad would be a perfect companion to “Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt,” a story about Harriet Tubman, or any of the books included in a unit on the Underground Railroad. The beautiful imagery and vivid descriptions make it a perfect read aloud. Freedom is compared to an autumn leaf, as Henry’s mother says, “Do you see those leaves blowing in the wind? They are torn from the trees like slave children are torn from their families.” This also for ...more
All that is in my mind upon reading this story:

Then (March 23, 1849):

Illustration from Henry's Freedom Box
See Henry Box Brown's profile, Personal Narrative and the biography Unboxing of Henry Brown for more information about Brown's life story.

Now (May 17, 2010):
[image error]
(AP Photo/Chiapas State Attorney General)
On May 17, 513 people are found shipping themselves upright in two trucks

Is there room for Hope?
First, let me just say how incredible Kadir Nelson's illustrations are. The sheer beauty and brilliance of his work never ceases to amaze me. The pictures in Henry's Freedom Box are no exception--simply gorgeous. The text is fairly simple, making this a great introductory book for children about the topic of slavery. It's a heartbreaking story, don't get me wrong, and by the end if you don't weep and cheer for Henry, well, I'm not sure you're actually a human being. There's a little author note ...more
Lisa Suchy
Jan 26, 2015 Lisa Suchy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Based on the true story of Henry "Box" Brown, this book not only goes through the heartache and emotions of slavery, but it is also accompanied with beautiful illustrations that cover the entire pages from top to bottom. Henry is given to his master's son when he is young, but has always had a hope to be free. Later on in his life, when his own family is taken away from him and sold, Henry has had enough. He will do whatever it takes for freedom. He is mailed across the world to Pennsylvania. Th ...more
Kadir Nelson’s art is amazing, as always. He uses color very effectively to illustrate Henry’s moods and feelings throughout the story. Henry, a slave living before the Civil War, decides to escape to freedom. His beloved wife and children have been sold and he doesn’t expect to ever be reunited with them. He finds a white friend who doesn’t believe in slavery who agrees to literally mail him to a free state. Ellen Levine very clearly describes the effect that slavery had on families and address ...more
Melissa Barbier
This book is very interesting because it is a true story. I liked but also disliked how simplistic some of the wording was. While it does make it accessible for children who are younger readers, it takes away from some of the very strong emotion that comes with the story. It is a very interesting story about a boy who is a slave his whole life and finally finds a way out after he grows up and has children. The illustrations are phenomenal and Kadir Nelson paints each page individually with such ...more
Oct 28, 2011 Jill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book caught my eye because of the fabulous illustrations by Kadir Nelson. It tells the story of Henry Brown, who, in 1849, escaped from slavery by having himself mailed to Philadelphia. Henry traveled 350 miles from Richmond, Virginia, in a nail-biting trip that took twenty-seven hours. Henry “Box” Brown became one of the most famous escaped slaves and his story remains incredibly inspirational.
Michele Stalmer
The is an amazing book that can be used during a study during Black History month or a social studies piece on the Civil War. The pictures are very engaging and the expression of the characters is fantastic. It is a positive story from the not so pretty side of American History, slavery in particular. It has simple text and is easy for children to read.
Anna Kļaviņa
Sep 06, 2015 Anna Kļaviņa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Anna by: Manybooks
Henry Brown wasn't sure how old he was. Henry was a slave. And slaves weren't allowed to know their birthdays.

Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
I'm going to predict that this will win a Coretta Scott King Award for illustrations in 2008. I'd read about Henry "Box" Brown in books for older children, so I'm happy to see this picture book on him. I can't imagine being cramped up in that box for days!
Stephanie  Weatherly
Absolutely love using this book in my classes as we embark on our historical fiction unit. The illustrations help to tell the story of a brave young man on his journey to start his new life.
Jillian Neyhart
Jan 10, 2017 Jillian Neyhart rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great historical fiction book, filled with symbolism and a great message of hope and freedom.
Sandra Couch
Jan 20, 2017 Sandra Couch rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Henry’s Freedom Box by Ellen Levine shares the life of Henry Brown, an African American slave who is ripped away from his family and sold. A low-spirited Henry is introduced as an ageless slave who has never had a birthday. When his owner becomes ill, he begins to think that he will be freed, but instead he is torn away from his family and sold to work in a tobacco factory. Years later and grown up, he eventually meets Nancy and marries her. While working at the tobacco factory, he learned his w ...more
Stephen McKinney
Mar 16, 2017 Stephen McKinney rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: stephen
Henry’s Freedom Box is an astounding piece of historical fiction. Author, Ellen Levine and Illustrator, Kadir Nelson team up to create a story and character that will rip your heart out of your chest. Henry’s life as a slave—from boy to man, is documented as a tumultuous time that entails his separation from his mother to his separation from his wife/children later on. Feelings of despair and hopelessness ooze out of the page as Henry watches his wife get taken away. Things start to look up when ...more
Juliann Strieter
Jan 21, 2017 Juliann Strieter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: diverse-books
Read this book as an e-book.

Henry's Freedom Box is a story of a slave who mails himself to freedom. This book is also a Jane Addams Peace Award-winning author, a Coretta Scott King Award-winning artist and a Caldecott Honor Book.

Henry Brown dreams about freedom, but is sent away from his family to work elsewhere with a new master. Henry grows up and marries, but then is traumatized when his family is sold. One day, he realizes he will reach freedom and will mail himself to Philadelphia -- in a
Remi Thorn
Apr 01, 2017 Remi Thorn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the book Henry’s Freedom box it takes place in the 1800’s, you can tell this because this is placed in the time of slavery, when the north and south were separated. At the beginning henry is a slave under his first master, who was very kind to him and his mother. His mother told him “Do you see those leaves in the wind? They are torn from the trees like slave children are torn from their families”. When his mother said this it means that slaves can be taken and moved at any time without warni ...more
Lauren Gonzalez
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 15, 2017 Monica rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ncsu
Henry's Freedom Box by Ellen Levine is the first book I have read that I cried while reading. This dramatic, heart wrenching historical fiction would be an appropriate read aloud for a third grade class. It may be too advance for younger grades as it deals with complicated and mature content. Henry's Freedom Box teaches students about what slaves and their families went through during this time. Slave families were constantly tore apart and sold or given away against their will, without a second ...more
Henry's Freedom Box is about a boy who grew up in slavery. When he grew up he came up with an idea to escape to freedom. Overall I liked the book. It kept historical facts right for the time period the story takes place and keeps the interest of the reader. What caught my attention was the realistic drawings. The artistic style was very simple but it also allowed the reader to see what the text is talking about.
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Review 1 5 Feb 16, 2015 06:34PM  
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Ellen Levine's books have won many awards and honors, including the Jane Addams Peace Award. Although she enjoys writing both fiction and nonfiction, most of Ellen's books for young readers have been nonfiction. "Writing nonfiction lets me in behind the scenes of the story. I enjoy learning new things and meeting new people, even if they lived 200 years ago."

Ellen Levine was born in New York City
More about Ellen Levine...

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