Last updated: July 8, 2015
Henry’s Freedom Box; A True Story from the Underground Railroad, by Ellen Levine and Kadir Nelson. New York: Scholastic Press, 2007.
Henry’s Freedom Box is a beautifully crafted picture book that briefly relates the story of Henry "Box" Brown's daring escape from slavery. The book’s author, Ellen Levine, was fascinated by Brown, whose story appeared in the 1872 book, The Underground Railroad, by William Still.
The text and evocative images tell how Henry Brown, a young slave, was torn from his mother as a child and forcibly separated from his wife and children as an adult. Brown, heartsick and desperate at losing his family, conspired with abolitionists and successfully traveled from Richmond, Virginia to Philadelphia in a packing crate. His journey took just over one full day, during which he was often tossed sideways or upside down in the wooden crate.
Kadir Nelson, the book’s illustrator, was inspired by an 1850s lithograph portraying the Brown incident. Nelson’s paintings help create the proper mood for Brown’s family drama and exciting journey to freedom.
The story ends with Henry Brown emerging from the unhappy confinement of the crate and into a comfortable Pennsylvania parlor.
The author and illustrator take great care to relay the natural drama of what is happening to Brown. The powerful illustrations will make readers feel as if they have gained insight into a resourceful man and his extraordinary story.��81WY�