Author: Ellen Levine
Illustrator: Kadir Nelson
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: 2007
Genre/Format: Biography/Picture Book
Summary: This books tells a story of the Underground Railroad about Henry, a man who grows up in slavery but escapes slaver by mailing himself in a box to freedom.
What I Think: This book is an extraordinary example of text and artwork working together to make an unforgettable book. Henry's story is heart-wrenching: he grows up a slave, is sold when his parents have died, and then after he is married with two kids, they are sold and he finds himself alone and distraught. I can't believe that he actually climbed into a box and asked to be nailed in and sent north. The unbelievable-ness of the story makes it so memorable by itself. For me, the illustrations made it even more etched in my memory. The artwork is stunning and Kadir Nelson does an amazing job of using the illustrations to really convey the mood and feelings from the text.
I have been committed myself to read more nonfiction this year and finding books like this one has been really exciting for me. I especially love nonfiction picture books that bring history to life and encourage kids to think like this book does.
Read Together: K - 12
Read Alone: 3 - 12
Read With: My Brother Martin: A Sister Remembers Growing Up with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by Christine King Farris, Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Doreen Rappaport, Copper Sun by Sharon Draper, Chains and Forge by Laure Halse Anderson
Snatch of Text:
“’No!’ cried Henry
He couldn’t think.
He couldn’t work.
‘Twist that tobacco!’
The boss poked Henry.
Henry twisted tobacco
leaves. His heart twisted
in his chest.”Reading Strategies to Practice: Activating Background Knowledge, Making Connections, Asking Questions, Making Predictions
Writing Strategies to Practice: Expository, Personal Narrative
Writing Prompts: Explain what the Underground Railroad was and how it worked. Write about a time in your life when you or someone you know has felt hopeless and what you did.
Topics Covered: Slavery, Family, Despair, Love, Courage, Creativity
Translated to Spanish: No