Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story From The Underground Railroad by Ellen Levine is a striking picture book about Henry “Box” Brown, the man who actually mailed himself to freedom.
Henry grew up enslaved in Virginia where he was forced to work without pay. He married another enslaved person and they had kids. One day, Henry’s wife and kids were separated from him, and his hope in his life was lost. That is until a man who is against slavery helped Henry devise a plan: he would hide in a wooden box and be mailed to abolitionists in Philidelphia and he would finally be free.
It was shocking to learn that this was a true story. The story really put in perspective how much Black people would risk for a shot at freedom. Also, it was bittersweet when Henry declared that his birthday was the day he was freed because enslaved people did not know when they were born. Choosing to make his birthday the day he was freed was like rediscovering himself, like a phoenix.
I loved the pictures in the book by Kadir Nelson, especially the ones where Henry is hiding in the box! They were kind of funny, because you could see Henry being rolled around in the box. (I love Kadir Nelson’s work, and have reviewed several books he has illustrated.)
This book is great for kids, even though it touches a very sensitive topic, Children may learn about U.S. history and the cruel way some white people treated Black individuals through this book. I thought the book was really interesting.
Four out of four roses!