The Adventures of Frank and Mustard is a children’s book series that promotes perseverance, disability awareness, inclusion, and empathy. The stories follow two main characters: Frank, a dachshund with two wheels instead of back legs, and Mustard, a little bird who is Frank’s dedicated friend. The two go on adventures together, sometimes getting stuck in sticky situations, standing up to bullies, and trying new things.
Author, Simon Calcavecchi’s life experiences parallel Frank’s. In 2002, Simon was in a rugby accident that left him paralyzed with C-5/C-6 quadriplegia. “When I got injured, it felt like I had the world’s support,” shares Simon. “I received so much love that it helped me stay strong and positive.”
Simon has carried this support and determination into his life after the accident. Prior to crafting his experiences into a story, he began volunteering with kids. He found that spending time with kids was inspiring his own life. It encouraged him to explore his creativity through different media, like writing hip hop music. From there, he grew his confidence as a writer.
“After volunteering with kids for a decade, I knew at some point I wanted to make a children’s book. The combination of having confidence in my creative side and loving to spend time with kids seemed like the perfect fit. But there was one lacking element: an illustrator,” shares Simon.
Simon’s artistic drive lead him to take on a huge project for Procession of the Species. “I had this dream to create a giant Komodo Dragon, mount it on my wheelchair, and take it through the streets,” says Simon. “Being someone who can’t do any of that for myself, I knew I was going to have to recruit a lot of people.” Through volunteering at the Olympia Food Co-op, Simon was able to find many people to help him actualize his dream. Through a mutual friend, Arturo Alvarez joined the mission. Arturo quickly became one of the most dedicated, detailed oriented people on the team and a fast friend of Simon’s.
After two years of friendship, Simon saw Arturo drawing a cartoon and an idea hit him. “I told Arturo, ‘Hey, man, I have been dreaming about this for way too long, how would you like to illustrate a children’s book for me?” recalls Simon. Within four months and after various bets against one another to keep their motivation rolling, Arturo and Simon created their first book; The Adventures of Frank and Mustard Stuck in the Mud.
In the next three years, Simon and Arturo created two other books: The Adventures of Frank and Mustard Differently Awesome and The Adventures of Frank and Mustard Wheels and Waves. They have a fourth adventure on the way.
Simon has become a motivational speaker and often gives presentations at local elementary schools and clubs. He builds disability awareness in an accessible way and focuses on the opportunity to create growth out of challenging situations. With more than 100 five-star reviews on Amazon, it is clear Simon’s message is well received among readers and listeners.
“I had a Boy Scout write me the other day needing to earn a merit badge for communication. He chose me and told me how he likes that the book series focuses on accepting differences. It was a very moving letter to read from a 12-year-old kid. To have him understand the messages in the stories was really powerful. Just knowing that one kid gets it, means that thousands of others are getting it too,” shares Simon.
Arturo and Simon have ideas to create a stop-motion movie, a publishing company that works with people who have disabilities by sharing their stories in a unique, educational and fun way, and to create positive concerts for kids. They are always looking for people to collaborate and network with in the Thurston County area and beyond. Whether you are interested in Simon coming to your school, club, or event to speak or want to collaborate with Arturo and Simon, you can reach them through The Adventures of Frank and Mustard website.
Additionally, Simon is a huge supporter of the South Sound Reading Foundation. If there is ever an organization that needs help raising money, he is happy to donate books to your cause.