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Henry's Freedom Box
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
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.
- Parents say
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What's the story?
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?