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Box: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom

Written by Carole Boston Weatherford & illustrated by Michele Wood
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In a moving, lyrical tale about the cost and fragility of freedom, a New York Times best-selling author and an acclaimed artist follow the life of a man who courageously shipped himself out of slavery.

What have I to fear?
My master broke every promise to me.
I lost my beloved wife and our dear children.
All, sold South. Neither my time nor my body is mine.
The breath of life is all I have to lose.
And bondage is suffocating me.

Henry Brown wrote that long before he came to be known as Box, he “entered the world a slave.” He 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. Strikingly illustrated in rich hues and patterns by artist Michele Wood, Box is augmented with historical records and an introductory excerpt from Henry’s own writing as well as a time line, notes from the author and illustrator, and a bibliography.

What Kind of Book is Box: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom

Trusted Reviews & Ratings

English Degree, Former SAHM, Grammy Extraordinare

Based on the true story of Henry Brown. Born a slave, tells one man’s story of his experience with slavery, with family separation, and of faith and courage. The story is told effectively in poetic form, in six-line stanzas, each with a bold heading that emphasizes the theme of that block of text. Although this is a picture book, the content makes it more for suitable for middle graders and above. It could be used effectively in the classroom for discussions of slavery, trade, nineteenth-century U.S. history, human rights, geography…It would be a shame if this book was overlooked by older readers because it is a picture book.

The story comes to life through illustrations by Michele Wood with bold paintings in vivid colors. In both text and illustrations, the book resonates with authenticity of the black experience in America during the early to mid-1800s.

Book Lists That Include Box: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom

Book Topics › slavery
Children's Books About Slavery
Book Topics › United States
Children's Books About United States
Book Topics › biography and autobiography
Children's Books About Biography And Autobiography
Book Topics › historical nonfiction
Children's Books About Historical Nonfiction
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Who Wrote Box: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom

Carole Boston Weatherford

Two-time NAACP Image Award winner Carole Boston Weatherford is a New York Times best-selling author and poet. Her books include the Coretta Scott King Honor Book Becoming Billie Holiday, and the Caldecott Honor Books Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom, Freedom in Congo Square, and Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement. For career achievements, she has been recognized by the North Carolina English Teachers Association and the Children’s Book Guild of Washington, DC. She teaches at Fayetteville State University in North Carolina. Visit her online at

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Who Illustrated Box: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom

Michele Wood

Michele Wood is an illustrator, painter, filmmaker, and designer with a master’s in divinity from Christian Theological Seminary. She has won numerous awards for her illustration work, including a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award, as well as a nomination for an NAACP Image Award. Box: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom is her first book with Candlewick Press. She lives in Indianapolis, Indiana.

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What Has Carole Boston Weatherford Said About This Book

Nothing yet! 🤷 You should let Carole know that you want more details about Box: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom! Try tweeting Carole on twitter (@poetweatherford) or messaging Carole on instagram (@caroleweatherford).

What Has Michele Wood Said About This Book

Nothing yet! 🤷 You should let Michele know that you want more details about Box: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom!

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Book Details

Publication Date:
April 14, 2020

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Core Score - 55%
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