Henry's Freedom Box

written by Ellen Levine, illustrated by Kadir Nelson

This Caldecott Honor book retells the true story of Henry Brown, a slave who mailed himself to freedom.

When just a small boy, Henry Brown was seperated from his family and sent as a slave to work in a tobacco factory. He eventually married and had 3 children. After his own family was sold away at the slave market, he enlisted the help of an abolitionist doctor and mailed himself in a wooden crate "to a place where there are no slaves!" He traveled by horse-drawn cart, steamboat and train before his box was delivered to the Philadelphia address of the doctor's friends. Brightly colored illustrations bring the story to life with power and visual insights. These Caldecott Honor award paintings were done with crosshatched pencil lines layered with watercolors and oil paints. 

I Like This Book

Paintings for this book were inspired by an antique lithograph of Henry "Box" Brown, created by Samuel Roswe in 1850 as a fundraiser for the anti-slavery movement.

The story ends with a reimagining of the lithograph that inspired it, in which Henry Brown emerges from his unhappy confinement and smiles upon his arrival in a comfortable Pennsylvania parlor.

Pat Gramling