Saturday, February 21, 2015

[BOOK REVIEW] Henry's Freedom Box by Ellen Levine

Title:  Henry's Freedom Box

Author:  Ellen Levine

Artist:  Kadir Nelson

Genre:  History / Slavery / African American

Year Published: 2007

Year Read:  2011

Scholastic Press       

Source:  Library

Content Rating:  Ages 5+  (Themes of Racism and Slavery)

This is another book that I was reading for the Children’s Book Club for Black History Month and I will admit that I just loved this book to death!  “Henry’s Freedom Box” is a Caldecott Honor Book by Ellen Levine along with illustrations by Kadir Nelson and it is about a runaway slave named Henry “Box” Brown who thinks of a clever plan to get out of slavery after his family is sold.  “Henry’s Freedom Box” is a truly inspiring and dramatic book for children who want to learn more about the horrors of slavery.

I am so glad that I had the opportunity to read this book because I wanted to learn more about black history, being that this is black history month and I wanted to learn more about the horrors of slavery for blacks.  Ellen Levine had done an excellent job at writing this true story about Henry “Box” Brown’s clever escape from slavery.  I loved how Ellen Levine made this story extremely dramatic and breathtaking at the same time as I was really moved by Henry’s loss of his family and how he wanted to escape from the cruel life of slavery and I was so amazed at how Henry escaped slavery by mailing himself in a box to freedom because that idea sounded so ingenious and risky that I was practically worrying about Henry’s safety in arriving to a land of freedom.  I also loved how Ellen Levine provided a note at the end of the book about how Henry Brown was one of the most famous runaway slaves and how there were over four million slaves living in the United States and that information alone was enough to let me ask myself about how could we have so many innocent people as slaves?  It really gave me so much knowledge about Henry Brown that I never knew before and how his plan made him such a famous runaway slave, which I think that his recognition in black history is greatly well deserved because his plan was so brilliant.  Kadir Nelson’s illustrations are extremely beautiful in this book as they realistically portrayed the pain and sorrow that Henry has to endure during his days of slavery.  The image I really loved was a close up shot of Henry’s sad face after his wife Nancy told him that their children might be sold and you can see the sadness on Henry’s face and what truly made this image so breathtaking was how the light from the window reflected off of Henry’s face, which seems to make this image look like a foreshadowing about what is in store for Henry.

All in all, “Henry’s Freedom Box” is a truly touching book that children who want to learn more about slavery and the heroic figures during slavery will easily enjoy this book!  I would recommend this book to children ages five and up due to some sad scenes.

* 2008 Caldecott Honor
* 2008 Comstock Read Aloud Honor Book

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