The White Ravens Database

Presented by   Internationale Jugendbibliothek / International Youth Library

Italian / Italy

L’ isola di Kalief

(Kalief’s island)

Orecchio, Davide (text)
Cerri, Mara (illus.)
Roma: Orecchio acerbo, [2021]. – [32] p.
ISBN 978-88-320-7058-3

New York City  | History 2010s  | Browder, Kalief (1993-2015)  | African Americans  | Racism  | Discrimination  | Injustice  | Imprisonment  | Picture book

Reading age: 8+

White Ravens issue: 2021


The announcement in 2019 that New York City had decided to close its jail on Rikers Island made top headlines. The jail is one of the largest correctional institutions in the world, notoriously known for cases of abuse and official misconduct. This picture book relates the bitter and dramatic story of Kalief Browder, an underage African-American boy, who was wrongly accused of stealing a backpack filled with valuables. He was held for years without trial, repeatedly in solitary confinement, on Rikers Island and committed suicide two years after his release. The story of his criminal charges and the need for changes to the penal system and greater respect for human rights are depicted very impressively in pictures by the talented illustrator Mara Cerri and in the clearly written text by historian Davide Orecchio. “L’ isola di Kalief” also conveys the dream that even in a place where so much suffering occurred, it will be possible one day for young people to grow up full of hope for the future, without forgetting the past. [SO]