N_carlyl's Reviews > Henry's Freedom Box

Henry's Freedom Box by Ellen Levine
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's review
Nov 03, 10

bookshelves: historical-fic

My stomach is in knots from reading this story. I truly felt like I was Henry escaping to my freedom. I'm reminded of how truly lucky I am to be living in a democratic society today. Henry "Box" Brown was born into slavery and at a young age was given to his dying master's son to become his slave. He was separated from his mother and continued to work hard in his new position. When he was older, his master allowed him to marry his wife. They were lucky, in a sense, because although Henry and his wife worked for different masters, they let them live together. After some time, Henry and his wife had children and his biggest fear came true. His wife and children were sold into slavery and taken from him. Having experienced the biggest loss of his life, he decided to do something unthinkable; anything to gain the freedom he deserved.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this review, my stomach feels like it is in knots because of how real the story is depicted by the author and illustrator. I'm blown away by the images of Henry and his surroundings. The angles from which the illustrator draws and the various aspects that he emphasizes, makes the reader feel like they are one of the characters. It is a truly remarkable story. This would be an excellent introduction to teaching about The Underground Railroad. It would be a powerful piece that would get the students thinking about how desperate individuals were to gain freedom. Hopefully, the story will also remind the students what it reminded me; to be grateful and not take advantage of our freedom today. I think this story is a powerful read aloud at any age or grade level above Kindergarten.
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N_hannahkang I read this book, too and had to google Henry Box Brown when I realized it was a true story. One criticism I had with this book was that there seemed no real correlation between his family being sold into slavery and his desire to attain freedom. AND - I thought once we was free he would do anything within his means to find his family and to help them attain their freedom, too. One of the sources I read (Ruggles) said that he remarried and had a second family even though he had the means to purchase their freedom. I can understand why at the time many people didn't know this story since it would prevent other African Americans from escaping in this fashion.

I did, however, like how Henry earns the nickname "Box" at a Boston antislavery convention in May 1849 since that's how he escaped. I could use this story as one of the picture books to introduce my essay about names. After reading the vignette "My Name" from Cisneros's House on Mango Street. Students have the option to either write how they got their name, how the earned their nicknames, or what their name means. Now I have a book that models how one earns a nickname!

N_katieg52 I also read this book. I thought it was a good read, but also thought it was heart-wrenching! I agree with you Carly- it reminds me how lucky I am to be living in today's society! Hannah- I agree with what you said about his family. I also was sad that he just kind of left his family behind and seemed ok with that. I was happy he was free but wish he would have sought them out in some way. I suppose he may be living his freedom in honor of them? I can't even imagine. This would be a great book for your name essay!!

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