Box: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom

Written by: Carole Boston Weatherford

Illustrated by: Michele Wood

For ages: 9 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: Historical Figures, Enslavement, Own Voices, Black Culture & Identity.


It’s Juneteenth! As white folx, today is a day for reflection and continued learning. Unfortunately, I don’t have any of the wonderful Juneteenth books that exist in the world in my personal collection so I decided to share this one instead. For #sweetsandsocialjustice this week, I wanted to tie in the traditional red foods that are eaten to celebrate so I made some baked red velvet donuts!

Juneteenth is a historic day for all Americans, and especially for the Black community. This gorgeous book is a beautiful retelling of the self-emancipation of Henry Brown who mailed himself in a box to Philadelphia. Prolific author Carole Boston Weatherford has written this book in six-line stanzas, one line for each side found in a box (like the one Henry used to gain his freedom). If you’ve read Henry’s Freedom Box, this is a much more in-depth and artistic representation of the story, and even involves excerpts from Henry’s own autobiography.

This is a beautiful book, rich with discussion. Box is a fantastic example of a picture book designed for older readers, because they’re able to grasp the abstractness of some pages. There’s lot of inter-textual connections that can be made with the book, it requires a higher level of reading comprehension that would be enticing for older elementary students, especially coupled with the gorgeous illustrations that Michele Wood has created for the book. Overall, this is a stunning book that regales the lengths that Henry Brown went to achieve freedom for himself and the attempts to find his family once free. In the back of the book is a timeline of events and notes from the author and illustrator. Truly a beautiful and necessary addition to each classroom and home library!

This book was sent to us by Candlewick Press, but all opinions are our own.

Bring the Story Home:

Baked Red Velvet Donuts Recipe


1 cup all-purpose baking flour

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup buttermilk

2 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 large egg, at room temperature

2 teaspoons red food coloring

Whisk together dries and wets separately, leaving out food coloring. Slowly stream in wets to dries and whisk together, folding in food coloring afterwards. Do not overmix. Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes, makes six donuts!

Recipe from Baker by Nature
About the Author and Illustrator

Carole Boston Weatherford is Baltimore-born and raised! Carole composed her first poem in first grade and dictated the verse to her mother on the ride home from school. Her father, a high school printing teacher, printed some of her early poems on index cards. Since her literary debut with Juneteenth Jamboree in 1995, Carole’s books have received three Caldecott Honors, two NAACP Image Awards, an SCBWI Golden Kite Award, a Coretta Scott King Author Honor and many other honors.

For career achievements, Carole received the Ragan-Rubin Award from North Carolina English Teachers Association and the North Carolina Literature Award, among the state’s highest civilian honors. She holds an M.A. in publications design from University of Baltimore and an M.F.A. in creative writing from University of North Carolina, Greensboro. She is a Professor of English at Fayetteville State University in North Carolina.

Artist, Educator, Illustrator, Speaker, Designer, Writer and Mentor, Michele Wood (b.1964) is best known for depicting moments in African American history as well as changing consciousness of the African American experience. With a career spanning over 30 years, this prolific artist continues to document the human experience with an unusually poetic introspection on African American history.

Michele Wood is the recipient of over 30 awards and honors. Michele was awarded the Ashley Bryan Illustrator Children Book Award in 2012. Her Art quilt was chosen for Glory Kilanko’s Video at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in 2012. The release of I Lay My Stitches Down, text by Cynthia Grady, won the 2013 Gold Nautilus award, 2012 recipient of the NYPL Children’s Book List and more.

Michele’s art has been exhibited in museums and galleries in the USA. Her art is included in private art collections the Indiana State Museum, Tubman Museum and more. A native of Indianapolis, Indiana, the amazing story of Michele’s rise as an artist began with her graduation in 1991 from the American College for Applied Arts- last named American Intercontinental University in Atlanta, Georgia under Steve Steinman. In 1994, the Apex Museum awarded the artist with a grant that allowed her to embark upon a pilgrimage to Yoruba Land in Africa. She was mentored by the international acclaimed sculpture Lamidi Olande Fakaye. It gave Michele an appreciation for aesthetics and led to her first publication Going Back Home: An Artist Return to the South (1996), a book that explores her family’s rural Southern heritage. Wood drew inspiration from her African heritage, Southern African-American roots, American quilts, African textiles and everyday experiences.

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