Monday, February 8, 2016

29 days of book love...

This book has been a favorite of mine for years.  An organization in Little Rock gave me a copy to use at my library there and I fell in love with this special biography about Henry Brown.

He story begins:

"Henry Brown wasn't sure how old he was, Henry was a slave. And slaves weren't allowed to know their birthdays."  This intrigues kids right away because they want to know why? I answer honestly that it kept them "less than human" to the slaveholders.

Very quickly we learn that Henry's master is dying and instead of freeing him on his deathbed he "gives" Henry to his son.  He is still young and yet is torn from his mother and family.  His new master owns a factory and Henry works there steadily but unhappily.  Eventually in town he meets another slave named Nancy and they fall in love and get permission to marry.  They have a few children and life seems good enough until Nancy's master sells her and the children away from Henry.

He spends many weeks mourning his family and then he makes a decision. He will do what he can to be free. His plan...he sends himself to freedom in a box (a large wooden crate). Henry in the box takes a pretty incredible journey north. Thus proving people enslaved will go to great lengths to experience freedom.

The watercolor illustrations by the fabulous Kadir Nelson are beautifully done.  Thanks to Ellen Levine for bringing this story to young readers.  

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