Thursday, September 20, 2012

Children's Book Review: Freedom Song! The Story of Henry "Box" Brown

Freedom Song: The Story of Henry "Box" Brown

Author: Sally M. Walker
Illustrator: Sean Qualls

Publisher: HarperCollins

Date: January 3, 2012

About The Author
Sally M. Walker’s many award-winning books bring history and science alive for young readers.

A Slave Family
Henry Brown was born to slave parents on a plantation in Virginia. He worked in the cotton fields as a child and he was allowed to grow-up with his parents.
Music was an important part of Henry's childhood and he always had a song in his heart and on his lips. He was afraid to voice his "freedom song", but it was always in his heart and mind.

When Henry was almost grown, he was sent to work in a tobacco factory in Richmond. He met a young slave woman named Nancy and they were allowed to get married. Henry and Nancy had children and they lived together in a slave cabin. Henry was very happy and continued to sing songs to his wife and children.

One day Henry learned that his family had been sold and would be sent far away. He was desperate to save them but he couldn't keep the family together. Henry was determined to escape to the North where he would be free.

With the help of several men who "knew the way of the Underground Railroad", Henry planned his escape. He built a wooden box that was just large enough to hold him. He got in the box and his friend shipped him to Pennsylvania.

His journey was very difficult and he almost died along the way. When he arrived at his destination, he was released from the box and lived as a free man for the rest of his life. No one knows whether he was ever reunited with Nancy or their children.

My Thoughts
Henry "Box" Brown was a real person who escaped slavery very much like it was described in this story. The story is documented by a letter that was written in 1849 by the man who received the box and set Henry free. This letter is now housed in a special collection at the New York Historical Society.

This is an excellent resource to supplement social studies and history curriculum in the elementary grades. The subject of slavery is not always easy to explain to children, but this book provides an excellent way to show children how slaves lived, worked and were treated by their owners.

The illustrations are excellent and add a great deal of value to the story. I highly recommend this book as an honest look  at the American culture and history during the 1800s.

My Rating: 5 Stars Out Of 5

FYI ~ I check-out the print version of this book from my local public libary.

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