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Box: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom

By: Carole Boston Weatherford

Illustrator: Michele Wood

Henry Brown was put to work as a child and passed down from one generation to the next—as property. When he was an adult, his wife and children were sold away from him out of spite. Henry Brown watched as his family left bound in chains, headed to the deeper South. What more could be taken from him? But then hope—and help—came in the form of the Underground Railroad. Escape!

In stanzas of six lines each, each line representing one side of a box, celebrated poet Carole Boston Weatherford powerfully narrates Henry Brown’s story of how he came to send himself in a box from slavery to freedom.

Time line. Bibliography. Illustrator’s note. “A Note on Numbers and Language.” Full-color mixed media illustrations.

ISBN: 9780763691561

JLG Release: Jun 2020


Sensitive Areas: Social Issue: Slavery in Historical Context
Topics: Henry “Box” Brown (1816–1897) , African Americans , Slavery , Nineteenth-century US history , Abolitionism , Underground Railroad

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Praise & Reviews

Starred or favorable reviews have been received from these periodicals:

Publishers Weekly*, School Library Journal*

School Library Journal

Weatherford shares the story of Henry “Box” Brown, who was born into slavery in Richmond in the 1800s. Brown’s birth family was divided after the death of their master. Later, Brown’s pregnant wife and three children were sold and sent to North Carolina. In 1849, the same year Harriet Tubman escaped from slavery, Brown shipped himself in a Weatherford shares the story of Henry “Box” Brown, who was born into slavery in Richmond in the 1800s. Brown’s birth family was divided after the death of their master. Later, Brown’s pregnant wife and three children were sold and sent to North Carolina. In 1849, the same year Harriet Tubman escaped from slavery, Brown shipped himself in a wooden box to the American Anti-Slavery Society office in Philadelphia, successfully winning his freedom. Brown, given the nickname “Box” by abolitionists, promoted his escape by publishing an autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Henry Box Brown. He created a performance piece (“Mirror of Slavery”) that he exhibited in the United States, England, and Canada, solidifying his place in American history. Brown’s story is conveyed in a series of sixains (a poem of six lines), mirroring the six sides of a box. Each poem is deceptively simple, but Weatherford’s lush storytelling allows Brown’s voice and story to come through clearly. The imagery is often as brutal as the history itself, and Brown is portrayed as a nuanced and complex human being, willing to do what is necessary to survive. Wood’s mixed-media illustrations are dynamic and engaging. The details urge a second or third reading of the text. Bibliography and notes from the author and illustrator are included. An artful and introspective retelling of the life of a remarkable man and a painful era in U.S. history. Weatherford’s text paired with Wood’s illustrations combine to offer a memorable work of nonfiction.

Book Details

ISBN

9780763691561

First Release

June 2020

Genre

Nonfic

Dewey Classification

B

Trim Size

9" x 10 1/2"

Page Count

56

Accelerated Reader

N/A

Scholastic Reading Counts

N/A

Lexile

N/A

Format

Print Book

Edition

Hardcover edition

Publisher

Candlewick

Potentially Sensitive Areas

Social Issue: Slavery in Historical Context

Topics

Henry “Box” Brown (1816–1897), African Americans, Slavery, Nineteenth-century US history, Abolitionism, Underground Railroad,

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