Henry’s Freedom Box

Author: Ellen Levine
Illustrator: Kadir Nelson

All children have dreams and wishes. Every year we place the appropriate number of brightly lit candles on beautifully iced cakes and say, “Make a wish!”  But things were different for Henry…

Henry Brown wasn’t sure how old he was. Henry was a slave. And slaves weren’t allowed to know their birthdays.

But Henry still had dreams. He dreamed of a world where his life belonged to him.  Throughout Henry’s life, he experienced much joy and sorrow, but never lost sight of his dream. One morning he saw a little bird flying free in the open sky and an idea came to him. He realized what he must do in order to gain his freedom.  Henry found a large wooden box and said to his friends, “I will mail myself to place where there are no slaves!”

The adventure began! How would Henry make it stuffed in a box?  He was tossed on a railway car, then a steamboat, then another railway car – to travel all the way to Philadelphia with only a few biscuits and a small container of water.  Perhaps he will end up with a birthday “date” after all – hmm, it’s almost here!

“Henry, do you see those leaves blowing in the wind?
They are torn from the trees like slave children are torn from their families.”
Henry “Box” Brown was one of the Underground Railroad’s most famous runaway slaves.

Want more information about the true story that inspired this book?
CLICK HERE to view an intriguing interview with author, Ellen Levine.

Mary Byrne Kline


 

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