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Henry's Freedom Box. ;...
Ellen Levine
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Henry's Freedom Box. ;A True Story From The Underground Railroad

4.45  ·  Rating Details ·  10,160 Ratings  ·  1,042 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
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Published 2009 by Weston Woods Studios, Incorporated (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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Feb 21, 2016 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
Dec 14, 2012 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
Lisa Vegan
Feb 01, 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
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
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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
Anna Kļaviņa
Dec 15, 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.

Kathy Roderer
Sep 26, 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?
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
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
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
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
Mar 09, 2016 Kim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical-fic
This is a fictional story of a slave named Henry and his journey from slavery to freedom. The illustrations in this book give the reader a feeling for exactly how the characters are feeling in the story, the colors are darker and give the reader a feeling of sadness. This is very effective because the subject of the story is very sad. The details of the illustrations are what made me feel connected to the characters in the story. The illustrator obviously paid very close attention to these detai ...more
The illustrations for this book were absolutely breathe-taking. I loved how the people were drawn, with such vivid details of their skin and faces, almost like they were looking straight at you, telling you their story. This story had sad elements, but still managed to have a happy, if bittersweet ending. I would definitely recommend this book.

*Taken from my book reviews blog:
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.
Donna Nadira
Sep 28, 2015 Donna Nadira rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Henry's Freedom Box (2007) tells about a man, Henry Brown, who mails himself to the North to escape slavery. The book starts Henry's story as a boy and continues up to his adulthood, and ultimately, freedom. My eyes started tearing up in the first few pages of the book, with the honest portrayal of the reality of African American people at that time.

Henry's Freedom Box has beautiful, well-lit, realistic illustrations that brings readers straight into the story, and conveys to the readers the fe
I'm calling this "nonfiction" even though it's based on a true story. True to form, Nelson's illustrations beautifully and conservatively explore a very difficult topic. Henry learns at a young age that being a slave means he has no choice in the matter when his master decides to sell or give him away. When he leaves his mother, he looks to be in his early teens, but his own children are sold along with his wife, and that's the last straw. Henry decides to send himself to freedom--literally. Aft ...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.
Matthew West
Dec 09, 2014 Matthew West rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: t-l-307
This book is about a slave boy named Henry Brown. Before Henry’s master is about to die he orders Henry to now leave your family and be the master’s son’s slave instead of the sometimes possible option of setting your slaves free before you pass away, this new sadness proves to be a long line of bad things for Henry. Henry goes to work for his new master and grows up over the years and finds a wonderful wife to marry and have kids with, however, soon Henry’s wife and kids are both sold to a diff ...more
Logan Goldberg
1. Unspoken: A Story from the Underground Railroad by Henry Cole (Nov 2012)

2. I chose to group Henry's Freedom Box with Unspoken because they both are about the Underground Railroad. Henry's Freedom Box is a true story and gives many facts about the Underground Railroad. It is very good at telling about it and giving an example of the process. I paired it with Unspoken because it is a fictional example of the same process. I feel like pairing these texts will give students repetition of learning
Carolyn Cirasole
HISTORICAL FICTION---Henry's Freedom Box recounts the true story of a Slave boy named Henry and his exeriences gorwing up in during slavery. The author talks about how families are broken apart, freedom is lost, and he paints a picture of what life felt like from the perective of a slave. I like his use of imagery when talking about the leaves breaking apart from the tree , just as Henry is separted from his family. He also uses figurative language when talking about the bird flying in the sky a ...more
This is a Caldecott Award winning picture book/CD. It’s categorized as “a fictionalized account of how in 1849 a Virginia slave escapes to freedom.” Sources also categorize it as K-2 literature, but I think that’s only because it’s a picture book. Henry “Box” Brown was born into slavery, and at a young age was sold away from his family. As a young adult, Henry became married and had a family, but in the ensuing years his wife and children were sold away from him. The rest of the story is about t ...more
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!
Kendell Garth
Mar 02, 2015 Kendell Garth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: rll-539
I've spent sometime searching for an appropriate picture book for older elementary students to go with my theme on slavery and was very pleased with this choice by Ellen Levine. This book not only has breathtaking illustrations but also evokes a whirlwind of emotions from the reader. This story follows one particular boy, Henry, through his experiences as a slave and eventually his clever plan out of it. After being separated from this mother and then again from his wife and children Henry finds ...more
Henry's Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad tells the life story of Henry who was born a slave. As a child he would watch the birds fly, knowing they were free, but he was unable to spread his wings. He did not even know what day he was born because slaves did not celebrate birthdays. Many years later, Henry is married and has children. One day he is informed that his wife and children have been sold to another master. Henry decides that he wants to escape. Does he ever get t ...more
Mar 08, 2016 Merle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical-fic
Henry’s Freedom Box by Ellen Levine
Grade level: 3rd
Theme(s): Slavery, Determination, Underground Railroad

Henry’s Freedom Box is a story about slavery and how families were torn apart during that era. When Henry’s master became ill, he gave Henry to his son. Henry left his family to work in a factory. When he got older, he married and had two children. One day while Henry was working, he received some really bad news; his wife and children had been sold. “Henry knew he would never see his family
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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
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