2013 Sakura Medal Books

Henry’s Freedom Box by Ellen Levine


Please add a comment below once you have finished reading this book.


Author: dontflop

Enjoy the ride !

5 thoughts on “Henry’s Freedom Box by Ellen Levine

  1. I’m a high school student who rarely has the opportunity to read book aimed for elementary kids so it came out to be a fresh experience.

    I was slightly shocked when I finished reading the book for two reasons.
    Firstly, I always thought that books aimed for elementary kids avoided complex themes such as racism. So it came out to be a shock when I came across this book because it vividly portrays the racist society of 18-19th century and the hard times the main character, Henry, had to experience.
    Secondly, I was plainly shock about the fact that a slave actually dared to put himself inside a box and ship himself off.

    I will recommend this book to my friends because it maturely allows us to understand the hard times the African-American slaves had to bare.

  2. We are the 2B students and want to write about Henry’s Freedom Box too. We just read the first comment, and even though it was a serious book and an angry book, we still liked having it read to us, but many of us think it is too serious for grade 1 because we know it is serious to go in a box and that you might die, but maybe 1st graders will not know that.
    After we read it, here are our feelings about it. We were doing a unit about how “Stories can be experienced and shared in different ways.” This was a story that we felt many emotions about. This is what we felt (we did a tally and we could vote more than once:

    Happy: 6 students: “because he got away”
    Sad: 14 students: “because his family got taken away from him”
    Angry: 13 students: “because somebody bought his wife and children to be slaves” (some of us can’t understand how you could have bought people! It doesn’t make sense. Its terrible!) also “because there were two sides, one side had slaves.”
    Scared: 4 “because when he was in the box he got upside down and it seemed like he would almost die.

    We also thought we could relate to the character of Henry because he lost his family and we would be sad if we lost our family.

    We think other people should read this book, but maybe not if you don’t like serious stories, and maybe not for kindergarteners, or first graders. They will get scared.

    From 2B students

  3. This is a story about a topic that is often overlooked in the younger grades, racism and the underground railroad. The topic of race is often left untouched in schools, and left for the parents to teach their children at their leisure. However, this book takes the story straight to the young ones, highlighting the injustice toward blacks, while reducing the brunt of the emotional side to the telling of the story.
    Even for myself, a high-schooler, I was drawn into the story, more than I have ever been into a picture book since i was a child myself. I strongly recommend this book, and I expect this book to be to runner in the voting, if not the winner of the competition.

  4. This picture book was a heartening and a inspiring book in many ways. Henry tells his own individual spirit towards “hope” but, it also shows the sorrow of families tearing apart and his impotent power towards slavery. I recommend this for those who are lacking knowledge about slavery since, this is a great start to know what kind of lives African-Americans experienced during the times when African-American people weren’t fully accepted in the nation. This book lets us see ourselves in the eyes of the boy and make us understand the reality of slavery. I strongly vote for this book for a Sakura Medal.

  5. Henry’s Freedom Box by Ellen Levine is a book about slavery and freedom. It tells the story of a Black slave.

    The main character, Henry, is a very passive, plain character. The book is narrated very blandly and the illustrations aren’t that interesting to look at. There are some interesting little details though even though the story has no highs or lows.

    The highlight of the book is Henry’s unusual method of escaping. But in my opinion there are too many exclamation marks and Henry doesn’t seem to develop as a character. The understatement that the author uses is quite annoying, especially when Henry burns his hand. Overall the story doesn’t strike any emotion.


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