Rummanah Aasi
  I don't think today's social studies curriculum focuses on the Civil War too much. There is a lot of topics to cover: the various battles, slavery, the Underground Railroad, literature, music, and the Reconstruction. I learned a bit from each of these topics, but not much in depth. While I heard and read about the Underground Railroad, I never heard of the remarkable story of Henry "Box" Brown before until I read Henry's Freedom Box by Ellen Levine.

Description: A fictionalized account of how in 1849 a Virginia slave, Henry "Box" Brown, escapes to freedom by shipping himself in a wooden crate from Richmond to Philadelphia.

Review: In a true story that is both heartbreaking and joyful, Levine recounts the biography of Henry "Box" Brown, who was born into slavery. As he grows up, Henry works in a tobacco factory, marries another slave, and fathers three children. Like many slave families during that time, his family is eventually sold and Henry realizes he will never see them again. With an ingenious idea, Henry persuades his friend and a white abolitionist to mail him in a wooden box to Philadelphia and freedom. Levine's storytelling is very simple and straightforward. She doesn't sugar coat the atrocities associated with slavery, yet the story is very appropriate for children. While the ending does not a happy ending per se, it does close with a bright hope of the future.
 Accompanying the story are beautiful, life-like pencil, watercolor, and oil paint illustrations by Kadir Nelson that resonate with full range of emotions which are palpable to the reader. Although the cover of the book shows a boy, this story is really about the whole history of Henry "Box Brown". At the back of the book, there are bibliographical references and an author's note. 

Rating: 4 stars

Curriculum Connection: Social Studies


Words of Caution: None.

If you like this book try: Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U. S. Marshal by
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