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January 9, 2010 at 12:39 pm

Henry’s Freedom Box by Ellen Levine, illustrated by Kadir Nelson; published by Scholastic, New York; 2007.

Henry “Box” Brown was a remarkable man—discontent with his life as a slave, he took his future into his own hands and mailed himself to freedom.  As remarkable as the story is, and it is told with clarity and compassion by Levine, it is the illustrations of Kadir Nelson that give expression to the emotion of the terrible but wonderful journey.  Brown’s life as a slave is presented in images that appear almost like an antique craqueleur finish.  When he reaches freedom, the images radiate off the pages with clarity.  Perspective is important in Nelson’s pencil/watercolor/ oil images too—from a close look at the addressing of Brown’s box to the claustrophobic look at the cramped quarters inside the box.  Nelson’s artistry was recognized as this book won a Caldecott Honor and was an ALSC Notable Book.

I would prominently display this book in multiple instances, including as Black History Month. I would also include this in pathfinders for parents and teachers.

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Entry filed under: ALSC Notable Winner, Caldecott Award or Honor Book, Multicultural Picture Book, Picture Book. Tags: , , , , , .

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