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.
Brown's story never gets old, and this illustrated biography is rich in context and detail that make it heavier on history and better for slightly older readers than, for instance, Ellen Levine and Kadir Nelson's Henry's Freedom Box (2007).Heartbreaking and legendary.
--Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
A powerful assortment of colors, textures, and artistic styles illustrate this true story of how Henry "Box" Brown escaped enslavement in 1849 via a harrowing journey inside a sealed crate...His traumatic, stifling two-day journey ("Baggage") from Virginia to Philadelphia occurs over several claustrophobic spreads. Elaborate mixed-media collages by Wood ( Clap Your Hands) employ a box motif, featuring Escher-like cubes alongside folded paper and painted quilt squares. A timeline, notes, and bibliography conclude this rich retelling of Brown's courageous escape.
--Publishers Weekly (starred review)
An artful and introspective retelling of the life of a remarkable man and a painful era in U.S. history. Weatherford's text paired with Wood's illustrations combine to offer a memorable work of nonfiction.
--School Library Journal (starred review)