Cool Calvin Teaches the Meaning of Being Gang-Free

Thanks to my mother for her voracious reading appetite and her willingness to let me tag along on her library trips.  Due to that experience, reading books became part of my life at an early age. Before I could even read, we would checkout books with records so I could follow along. When I became of reading age, I feasted on books about kids like me doing amazing things. I enjoyed Encyclopedia Brown’s mysteries and appreciated the Sweet Valley High twins as they took the fear of the unknown out of attending high school.


While I grew up in a New Jersey suburb, safe from the gangs of inner city Newark, New Jersey, I didn’t feel a deep relation to the stories I read. Luckily, with gang messages and the allure of grabbing a quick buck constantly bombarding today’s youth, Ralph Burgess and his creation, The Learning Adventures of Cool Calvin, are now on the scene. The literary adventure getting the most attention these days is Cool Calvin’s No Bandanas for Me: Staying Gang Free. Instead of being preachy, a tactic sure to turn-off young readers, Burgess allows young Calvin to carry the message of gang dangers to his audience. The peer-to-peer learning model not only encourages children to read but it allows them to learn valuable lessons about belonging. Burgess attracts readers with a likeable character and a positive message.


Cool Calvin not only makes an impact on his young readers, he also makes a mark on the New York City Department of Education and the self-publishing industry as a whole. Ralph Burgess, a self-publisher, recently landed a huge purchase order for 9,500 books through a distribution deal with Sussman Sales. The NYCDOE will distribute the books throughout the New York City school system. This major coup adds one more success story to the self-publishing roster, thereby removing it even further from its vanity press perception.


Known for its high gang population, Burgess hopes Cool Calvin can reach the Chicago and Los Angeles school systems as well.


For more information, about Cool Calvin and his adventures check out


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