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Box: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom

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4.11  ·  Rating details ·  447 ratings  ·  117 reviews
In a moving, lyrical tale about the cost and fragility of freedom, a New York Times best-selling author and an acclaimed artist follow the life of a man who courageously shipped himself out of slavery.

What have I to fear?
My master broke every promise to me.
I lost my beloved wife and our dear children.
All, sold South. Neither my time nor my body is mine.
The breath of life i
...more
Hardcover, 56 pages
Published April 14th 2020 by Candlewick Press
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Average rating 4.11  · 
Rating details
 ·  447 ratings  ·  117 reviews


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Jiny S
Feb 09, 2021 rated it really liked it
This is the story of a slave's ingenious and desperate attempt to escape to freedom. After the heartbreaking separation from his family when they were sold off, Henry Brown decided he had nothing to lose. So he decided to mail himself to freedom in a shipping container.

The writing is poetic, raw with fear and hope. It has taken into account real historical records along with Henry Brown's own words. It is a short read, but a very significant one.
...more
Elizabeth Meadows
Feb 24, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2021-print-books
Incredible story!
Panda Incognito
This is a powerful retelling of the story of Henry Brown, who traveled to freedom inside a box. This was one of my favorite Underground Railroad stories when I was a child, because it was so concrete, vivid, and yet unimaginable. I spent a lot of time thinking about how hard it would be to survive, and whenever I wanted to complain about feeling uncomfortable or claustrophobic, I would remember that he literally packed himself into a box to get to freedom and stayed in it for days, even when ina ...more
Gail
Jun 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I chose the audiobook for this short read. Written in prose and narrated to the background of beautiful music. The story of a slave who mailed himself to freedom, in a box.
Rodica
Jan 09, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My son is a huge fan of the Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales series and has been asking me a lot of questions about slavery and the Underground Railroad. I can’t answer some of his questions properly, as a non-American, so I decided it’s time I educate myself.

This is a collection of poems regarding the fate of Henry Brown, a historical figure, one of the slaves who escaped by being mailed in a box, from Virginia to Pennsylvania. It’s a very short and poignant listen, beautifully read by Dion Graha
...more
Heidi Burkhart
Jan 28, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful and heartbreaking. Though this is a picture book I would recommend it highly in classrooms from about Gr.4-9.
Alicia
I was distracted rather than interested in the illustrations. Similarly, the storytelling in verse was okay, not the greatest. It’s the story and Brown’s perilous journey that is the true story in its significance. His will to be free even when the deck was stacked against him- horrible slaveholders who duped him and his want to be with the family he made.

Then the creativity and desperation of his choice to mail himself in a box with a few oxygen holes being flipped upside down and jostled ever
...more
Alex  Baugh
In BOX: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom, a picture book biography for older readers, Carole Boston Weatherford offers a heartbreaking personal look at the life of on enslaved man who decided that he had nothing to lose by attempting to mail himself to freedom after everyone he loved - his wife and children - were sold:

"What have I to fear?
My master broke every promise to me.
I lost my beloved wife and our dear children.
All, sold South. Neither my time nor my body is mine.
The breath of life i
...more
Laura Giessler
Breathtaking and powerful. WOW. Carole Boston Weatherford is a magnificent author, and this bio did not disappoint. Told in poems of six lines (for the six sides of a box), Weatherford uses words from Henry Brown's own writings to tell his story. She focuses not only on his unbelievable escape, but also on his life as an enslaved person before his escape and his work as an abolitionist after. This is powerful writing--the agony of being separated from one's family, repeatedly; the cruelty of the ...more
Pamela
Written in 6-line stanzas (representing the six sides of a box), each w a heading, about the man who mailed himself to freedom. I thought he was a child when he did this but he was a man. His wife and children had been sold away south, contrary to former promises, and he felt he had nothing to lose. This is a sad story that captures his heartache and the desperation behind his actions. It mentions some other acts of rebellion against slavery (like Nat Turner) as well as what happens to Henry aft ...more
Amy
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, from the way the text is arranged to the colorful illustrations. It really explained the history of the life of a slave, and more specifically, the life of Henry "Box" Brown.

Outstanding!
...more
Beverly
Jun 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Reviewed for the Mock Caldecott awards. I think this is a wonderfully descriptive book about coming from the bonds of slavery and persevering towards freedom. Another book about an incredible man, who I had never heard of, who endured much in order to gain his freedom. Certainly inspirational.
Diane White
Feb 15, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2021-picture
I listened to this picture book because that is the way I like novels in verse and/or poetry. It was a very good book and I can see why it received a Newberry Honor.
Thomas Bell
Jan 30, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: newbery-honors
Incredible story, but it's been told (and illustrated) better before.

Congratulations to the author for winning a Newbery Honor!
...more
Victoria
Nov 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Box: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom is a picture book filled with poems. While these poems do not rhyme, they follow the typical elements of poetry. This book was written by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Michele Wood. It tells the story of Henry "Box" Brown, a former slave who mailed himself to freedom. Readers may be familiar with the book Henry's Freedom Box, which discusses the same event. It is based on a true story.

I discovered this book on NCTE Award for Excellence in
...more
Linda
Thanks to Candlewick Press for the copy of this book, out April 14th!

I know that we in these modern days might never really understand the fright, pain, and sorrow of being enslaved, but we can try our best to learn, through reading the author's stories that are available, sometimes using a slave's own words to tell the story. This is what Carole Boston Weatherford has done in this poignant account of Henry 'Box' Brown, a slave who through final and unimaginable circumstances finally thought he
...more
Stephanie Bange
Sep 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Wow. This one took my breath away.

By opening with a quote from Brown's Narrative of the Life of Henry Box Brown, Written by Himself (1851), Weatherford lets Henry Brown speak directly to the reader about the shame of slavery. She moves on, sharing details about his life from his childhood of enslavement to his adulthood in freedom. Weatherford has chosen to add a little punch to Brown's story by telling it in the form of fifty graceful sixain/six-lined poetry (and one letter). (Six because that
...more
Ben Truong
Aug 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Box: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom is a biographical children's picture book written by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Michele Wood. It centers on Henry Brown, after losing his family to treacherous slaveholders, he risks his life in an unusual bid for freedom.

Henry Box Brown was a 19th-century Virginia slave who escaped to freedom at the age of 33 by arranging to have himself mailed in a wooden crate in 1849 to abolitionists in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Weatherford's text
...more
Kathleen
Mar 22, 2021 rated it really liked it
Box tells the story of Henry Brown, a Virginia slave born in 1815, who put himself in a box and was shipped to freedom in Philadelphia. His life is told in a series of six stanza poems by author Carole Boston Weatherford and richly illustrated by Michele Wood. Their collaboration is a beautiful picture book.

Brown’s story was new to me. After losing his beloved wife and children when they were sold off and sent further south, he executed a difficult and incredulous feat by climbing in a wooden b
...more
Tasha
May 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Told in brief poems, this nonfiction picture book explores a daring escape to freedom in the face of loss and brutality. Born in 1815, Henry Brown was born into slavery in Richmond, Virginia. He worked from the time he was a small child, passed from one generation of his owners to the next. Despite a series of promises by various owners, Henry Brown’s family is sold away from him multiple times, even when he paid money to keep them near. Hearing of the Underground Railroad, he decides to make a ...more
Christy
Feb 14, 2021 rated it it was amazing
n a moving, lyrical tale about the cost and fragility of freedom, a New York Times best-selling author and an acclaimed artist follow the life of a man who courageously shipped himself out of slavery.

What have I to fear?
My master broke every promise to me.
I lost my beloved wife and our dear children.
All, sold South. Neither my time nor my body is mine.
The breath of life is all I have to lose.
And bondage is suffocating me.

Henry Brown wrote that long before he came to be known as Box, he "entered
...more
Margie
May 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Meeting a person from the past for the first time in a children's picture book is a gift to be enjoyed and shared. When this person has an astonishing accomplishment attached to their life, it makes this encounter even more relevant. Your sense of gratitude to the author and illustrator for this book, for their work on this book, is enormous.

My first lasting memory of Henry Box Brown is when I read Henry's Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad (Scholastic Press, January 1, 2007
...more
Paul G. Caron
Feb 23, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Books 2020
#21: Box: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford.
This is a 2021 Newbery Honor Book.
Some people may not be aware of the true story of enslaved Henry Brown mailing himself in a box from Richmond to Philadelphia in 1849. This finely illustrated book tells the story of this great escape in short paragraphs of six lines. Each of the lines represents the six sides of a box or actually a crate. Brown narrates this book which was taken from his own biography. It's al
...more
Ilse O'Brien
Aug 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
This biography is written as a series of 6-line poems, each in the voice of Henry Brown, based on his written narrative of his experiences and other primary sources. It depicts the injustices and inhumanities he suffered, and the daring escape he made to freedom. This 2020 text goes into more detail than the popular Henry’s Freedom Box by Ellen Levine (2007), since it is told in first person and provides significantly more details. The book presents the tragic suffering experienced by Brown and ...more
Maura
Astonishing new look at the life of Henry "Box" Brown, told in a series of 6-line poems that will creep into your heart and make a place there. "Box" Brown has just recently been added to the Virginia Studies curriculum and I really appreciate this much more somber, much less celebratory take of his amazing story of freedom seeking. Too often, I see him presented as kind of a fun anecdote..."And a guy even mailed himself to freedom!" as if his journey wasn't born of utterly heart-rending despera ...more
Connie T.
Representing the six sides of a box, Weatherford uses a series of six-lined poems to tell the life story of Henry Brown, the slave who shipped himself to freedom. This is not a novel in verse. One poem doesn't flow into the next, making the end result feel choppy. While there is an abundance of information packed within these poems and the timeline that's included in the back of the book, I think prose would've been a better style to use to deliver this story. In addition,the poetry makes access ...more
Courtney
Mar 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: edc-339, caldecott
The book that I selected that should have won the Caldecott Medal 2021 is Box: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom written by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Michele Wood. This powerful story follows Henry Brown, a slave who escaped to his freedom by hiding and traveling in a wooden crate or box. This text demonstrates how strong willed and resilient that Henry “Box” Brown was throughout his journey of escaping to become an influential abolitionist speaker. The illustrations in thi ...more
Linda Martin
This is a beautiful picture book about Henry Brown, an enslaved man who shut himself up in a box (with a friend's help) to be mailed to freedom from Virginia to Pennsylvania in 1849. It is a 2021 Newbery Honor Book.

The text of this book is poetry. Each little poem has six lines to represent the six sides of the box Henry Brown was encased in for shipping. The story is very moving and the illustrations touched my heart as well. I have a great love of beautiful picture book art and am happy to ha
...more
Ellon
May 01, 2021 rated it liked it
So I listened to the author talk about the book on a Newbery panel and it was interesting to hear her research process and why she chose to write in the poetic form that she did.
When actually reading the book though, it wasn't my favorite. I think that the form she chose made the narrative seemed choppy and the story didn't flow. I think the story of Henry Brown is amazing but I much prefer Henry's Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad. I also wasn't a huge fan of the illustra
...more
Nancy
Henry Brown, who was born into slavery, escapes to freedom in a box built by a shoemaker for him, and survives a long, dangerous, and arduous journey. The story begins with his childhood and follows him through his adulthood into freedom, where he reinvents his new life as Professor H. Brown, an African prince and performer with a specialty in escape boxes. The last poem is Axiom: "Freedom/ Is/ Fragile./ Handle/ With/ Care." Told in groupings of poetic sixains (six-liners) and based on historica ...more
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Carole Boston Weatherford is a children's book author and poet who "mines the past for family stories, fading traditions, and forgotten struggles." A number of Weatherford's books tell the stories of African-American historical figures such as Harriet Tubman, Jesse Owens, and Billie Holiday. Other books recount historical events such as the Greensboro Sit-ins and the bombing of the Sixteenth Stree ...more

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