Meghan Porter's Reviews > Henry's Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad

Henry's Freedom Box by Ellen Levine
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's review
Oct 25, 2011

really liked it
Read in October, 2011

Henry's Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad gives you great insight into one man's life and determination to make his life better and find freedom. This piece of historical fiction tells the story of Henry "Box" Brown, a man who mailed himself to freedom in a wood crate. Henry was born a slave and was ripped from his family when he was very young. He was sent to work in a factory for a boss who was v3ery cruel and would beat you if you didn't work well. Henry meets a woman who he later marries and has children with. His family is taken from him and he is devastated. He decides that he is going to make himself a free man. He does this by mailing himself to Pennsylvania where he becomes a free man.

I enjoyed the picture of this book so much. Kadir Nelson painted all of the images by first using pencil to crosshatch and then used layers of watercolors and oil paints over them. His inspiration for the images was by looking at an antique lithograph of the real Henry. The images show so much emotion that you can feel everything that Henry feels. When Henry's family is taken from him you can feel his pain and anguish as he sits alone in this house. In another image, Henry is upside down in the box as he is making his journey to Pennsylvania you can really see how uncomfortable he his being stuffed in there.

I think that my favorite part of the entire book however was the references to freedom. Henry would see birds flying high and free in the sky and that is how he know he wanted to be a free man. Even the leaves blowing in the wind were in a way a foreshadowing of his impending freedom. His mother said that they were like slave children being taken from their families and that makes complete sense, however I saw it a little differently. I saw the leaves as a metaphor for Henry's slavery. A leaf spends most of it's "life" stuck in one place and it's aloud to do what ever it wants. It "works" for the tree, giving it life and food. When the leaves leave the tree and are blown away by the wind they are finally free to explore.

I felt that this book was both informative and entertaining. I enjoyed it a great deal.

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