Scott Volz's Reviews > Henry's Freedom Box

Henry's Freedom Box by Ellen Levine
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Apr 24, 12

bookshelves: picture-books, historical-fiction, k-3, non-fiction
Read in March, 2012

Based on the true story of Henry Brown, a slave who mailed himself from Virginia to Pennsylvania--and freedom, Henry's Freedom Box is an interesting and important book that depicts the realities of slavery and the Underground Railroad movement in early-to-mid 19th-century America. The book exposes some of the harsh truths of the times--Henry's decision to escape is prompted by the sale of his wife and children on the slave market, separating him from them forever--but doesn't focus on the brutality of slavery in a way that might overwhelm a child reading about this for the first time.

As good as the book's story line is, it's made even better by Kadir Nelson artwork. Inspired by the lithographs of the 1830s, Nelson uses shaded pencil, watercolor and oil to dramatically portray the action and emotion of each scene.

Though the subject matter is heavier than most picture books, Henry's Freedom Box is an engaging and inspiring account of one man's ingenuity and bravery. This would make an excellent addition to the elementary-grade history curriculum.
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