Henry's Freedom Box

Book review by
Patricia Tauzer, Common Sense Media
Henry's Freedom Box Book Poster Image
Heartrending but hopeful, true story of slave boy's escape.

Parents say

age 7+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 5+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Violence & Scariness

Henry's wife and children are sold to another slave owner and he isn't reunited with them by the end of the book.

Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this book is based on a true story from the Underground Railroad and is as riveting as the strong, straightforward stare of the young boy on its cover. It may disturb younger readers, as it should, that children are sold away from their families, and parents should be prepared to talk about this and the other harsh realities of Henry's life. An author's note at the end tells of the real Henry Brown and his Freedom Box on which this story was based.

User Reviews

Parent of a 5 and 8 year old Written byMitchell1996 May 30, 2009

A Must Read For All Children

This book is an excellent piece of literature that can be used to develop an awesome social studies lesson. The themes of family and freedom is beautifully cra... Continue reading
Adult Written bylola brii February 6, 2012

the best

that it tells ral life slavey from a kids perspective
Kid, 12 years old July 15, 2010

great!!!!!! :)

GREAT BOOK ABOUT FREEDOM!

What's the story?

When Henry is young, his master dies and he is separated from his mother. Put to work in a tobacco factory, he marries and has a family of his own. After his wife and family are sold away from him, he comes up with an inventive plan for escaping to freedom.

Is it any good?

Inspirational in its simplicity, HENRY'S FREEDOM BOX tells a moving story of one individual's strength of spirit. It also poignantly presents the heart-wrenching sorrow of families torn apart, and the powerlessness of the enslaved. This book does not preach. In fact, its message is almost understated. But, in the eyes of the boy, the gentleness of his mother, the cramped crated body of the escaping man, its meaning comes across loud and clear: Even in the best of situations, slavery is an evil thing.

Artwork by Kadir Nelson brings warmth and reality to a story that otherwise is told rather straightforwardly. With crosshatched pencil lines under layers of watercolor and oils, he has created amazingly sensitive and powerful portraits based on an anti-slavery lithograph of Henry "Box" Brown that was printed in 1850. His illustrations alone make this a book worth having.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about slavery in America, the underground railroad, and the amazing things people did, both to escape unhappy, horrible circumstances as well as to help others escape. Families can also discuss what Henry's life was like as he grew up on the plantation, and after. What about his plan to escape? Was taking such a chance worth it?

Book details

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