Read Henrys Freedom Box by Ellen Levine Free Online
Book Title: Henrys Freedom Box|
The author of the book: Ellen Levine
Edition: Suzuki Syuppan/Tsai Fong Books
Date of issue: December 1st 2008
ISBN 13: 9784790251941
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 17.11 MB
City - Country: No data
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Reader ratings: 6.9
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Ellen Levine's Henry's Freedom Box is a book that tugs at all of one's emotions. It makes one angry, sad, despairing, happy. And above all, it should make any reasonable, any compassionate human being indignant at the inhumanity of slavery and strive for liberty, justice and equality for all. In fact, I think that Henry's Freedom Box should be required reading in every elementary school classroom, not only in the United States of America, but globally.
That Henry Brown has basically no rights, that slaves are considered merely property and can be sold as though they were furniture, horses, cows etc. is both mind-boggling and an assault on all that is decent. And that Henry would be willing to actually mail himself in a wooden crate to an area of the United States where there is no slavery, in spite of the extreme danger of this undertaking to both life and limb, shows how desperate Henry is, how inhumane, how cruel slavery and the concept of slavery was and is. And while I do appreciate the fact that Henry is helped in his endeavour by not only his friend James, but also by Dr. Smith, a white man who is against slavery, I do indeed at times wonder why Dr. Smith does not offer to travel to Philadelphia with the box, as this would have made Henry's trip both safer and also much more comfortable.
As to the accompanying illustrations by Kadir Nelson, they literally do take one's breath away with their detail and expressiveness. Indeed they are a wonderful complement to the story, to Ellen Levine's words, and as such, they majorly underline the cruelty of slavery, the despair that slavery and the inhumane actions, behaviours of many (perhaps even most) of the slave owners have on those affected; one only has to look at Henry's eyes, his depicted sadness and utter despair when he loses his family (and not only once, but actually twice). I also appreciate that both the illustrations and textual words manage to successfully convey the cruelty of slavery without the use of either overtly violent pictures or narrative. And the appreciated fact that the violence and physical cruelty of slavery are never all that overtly shown (although always implied, always lurking in the backgorund) makes Henry's Freedom Box suitable for both younger and older children.
I have to admit that I do have a bit of a problem with Henry Brown being called a "runaway" slave. I know this is likely very much a personal dislike of the word, but whenever I hear or read the word "runaway" in conjunction with slave, it leaves a bit of a stigma and an air of negativity (as though Henry and other escaping slaves historically actually did something wrong, which in my mind is simply not the case, as they were escaping from situations, scenarios that were both morally and ethically criminal and inhumane). My friend Abigail calls Henry "Box" Brown an Abolitionist celebrity in her excellent review, and that is a much more fitting description in my opinion; one can even call Henry "Box" Brown an Abolitionist hero, because "runaway" semantically does (at least to and for me) leave the unacceptable tinge of Henry Brown actually having done something morally wrong in some manner.
And finally, while I have generally enjoyed the author's note and am most happy it has been included, I do rather feel that Ellen Levine has not given us nearly enough details. As I knew patently nothing about Henry "Box" Brown prior to reading , I for one would most definitely have appreciated more historical facts, additional information, not only about Henry's life and times as a slave, but also and especially with regard to his life after freedom, about his life in Philadelphia. Additional historical, non fiction details would of course also be an additional boon to teachers using this book in the classroom, as the story will undoubtedly engender both discussion and questions (which it should, which it must). But all-in-all, Henry's Freedom Box is a wonderful, moving, and very much important picture book, a book that should really be read by every child, and in my opinion, every adult as well.
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Read information about the authorEllen Levine's books have won many awards and honors, including the Jane Addams Peace Award. Although she enjoys writing both fiction and nonfiction, most of Ellen's books for young readers have been nonfiction. "Writing nonfiction lets me in behind the scenes of the story. I enjoy learning new things and meeting new people, even if they lived 200 years ago."
Ellen Levine was born in New York City. She received her B.A. degree in Politics from Brandeis University, graduating Magna cum laude. She has a Master's degree in political science from the University of Chicago and a Juris Doctor degree from New York University School of Law. She has worked in film and television, taught adults and immigrant teenagers in special education and ESL programs, and served a law clerkship with Chief Judge Joseph Lord, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania. A former staff attorney with a public interest law group, Levine now devotes her time to writing, lecturing, and teaching. She is on the faculty of Vermont College's MFA program in writing for Children and Young Adults.
Ellen Levine divides her time between New York City and Salem, New York.
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