Press Release

For Immediate Release
Contact Gail Kearns

Criminal Justice Reform. What About the Kids?
Timely Adventure from Long-time Forensic DNA Expert


(Sacramento, CA) … Most cases of wrongful convictions involve intrinsic biases in the criminal justice system, including racial discrimination, and, more broadly, entrenched inequities in money and power. Parents and teachers need to educate kids about this issue, and Dr. Ruth (Ruthy) Ballard’s new science fantasy book, Frankie and the Gift of Fantasy, is here to help. (e-book available June 16, 2020;; ASIN: B08959J2QN; Ballard consults for attorneys and the courts on DNA evidence, and has done so for more than 20 years. She provides pre-teens (ages 9-12) a valuable view from the inside, harnessing the power of masterful storytelling to lure kids in and get them talking. Frankie and the Gift of Fantasy trailer video.

The Plot and the Message

When young Frankie Russo disappears through a crack in his bedroom ceiling, whisked off to a magical adventure on a distant, two-mooned planet, an innocent man, Jimmy, is arrested and charged with Frankie’s abduction (a crime that never took place). Frankie and the Gift of Fantasy follows Jimmy’s tragic tale, as he’s railroaded by police and a zealous prosecutor, and is failed by a snoozing, jaded, defense attorney, who assumes he’s guilty.

“Jimmy is a highly sympathetic character, and not atypical,” Ballard explains. “He comes from an abusive family and is forced to join a gang when he’s only eleven years old, to stay safe on the streets. As a result, he gets swept up into petty crimes and jumps in an out of the criminal justice system for many years. He’s not a bad person; quite the opposite. Jimmy is naturally gifted at working with his hands, and wants nothing more than to live a normal life.”

Ballard wrote the first draft of her book a few years ago, before the current, long-overdue, movement for criminal justice reform. “It seems like fate that my book is launching in the middle of this revolution,” she says. “It’s a valuable teaching tool, grounded in over 120 forensic DNA case reviews that I’ve done over the years. Too many times, I’ve seen people, especially young men of color, treated unfairly, sometimes pleading guilty to crimes they didn’t commit. Faced with a possible 30-year sentence, they opt for six or seven. And once they’ve pleaded, they can’t appeal their case, because there was no trial.”

The print book will be released Oct. 1, 2020. A companion volume, Tales by Moons-light: Stories from before the Great Melt, will launch in e-book format on July 17, 2020 and in print, February 18, 2021. The second book focuses on what Ballard calls “the four pillars of scientific literacy,” including the strength in diversity, an important message that all kids need to hear, especially now.

Additional resources:
Ruthy Ballard-Author, Artist, Scientist YouTube channel

Book Descriptions

25-word description

A thrilling, science-rich adventure story that takes its middle grade readers on an entertaining romp to the other side of the galaxy.

50-word description

Frankie Russo has a wild and wonderful imagination, but his nagging, ambitious parents don’t appreciate it. All that changes, though, when he disappears through a crack in his bedroom ceiling and find himself on a faraway two-mooned planet called Urth. A thrilling, science-rich, entertaining romp for middle grade readers!

200-word description

Frankie Russo doesn’t brood about the past or worry about the future. He lives in the present moment, frolicking in a world of make-believe that drives his high-achieving parents crazy. They have lofty ambitions for him, but Frankie has no interest. He prefers to flip helium burgers on Jupiter or rule a kingdom of mermen in the Caspian Sea, up inside his head, where all the fun is.

Frankie’s parents nag him endlessly, worried he’ll come to nothing. But all that changes when he disappears through a mysterious crack in his bedroom ceiling and finds himself on a distant, two-mooned planet called Urth.

Why was he drawn there? He doesn’t know, but as he embarks on a delightful, mind-blowing adventure, Frankie’s desperate parents think he’s been abducted, and an innocent man is arrested and charged with the crime!

On the surface, Frankie and the Gift of Fantasy is a lighthearted science-rich adventure story that takes its middle grade readers on an entertaining romp to the other side of the galaxy. But the undercurrent is one of discovery and redemption, where a ten-year-old boy, through an unexpected journey, finds a way to escape his parent’s stifling shadow and emerge into a future of his own choosing.

Frankie and the Gift of Fantasy

By Ruthy Ballard


Category: Juvenile Fiction
BISAC Codes:
JUV044000 JUVENILE FICTION / Readers / Intermediate
JUV037000 JUVENILE FICTION / Fantasy & Magic
JUV029000 JUVENILE FICTION / Science & Nature / General

Title: Frankie and the Gift of Fantasy
Author: Ruthy Ballard
Formats: Print & eBook
Pages: 260
Price: $12.95 (paperback); $7.99 (eBook)

ISBN 978-0-9978532-7-8 (Paperback)
ISBN 978-0-9978532-8-5 (Kindle)
ISBN 978-0-9978532-9-2 (ePub)

Publisher Contact

Whipsmart Books
5008 T Street
Sacramento, CA 95819
Phone: 916-835-3757

Publicity Contact

Gail M. Kearns
825 E. Pedregosa Street, Suite 2
Santa Barbara, CA 93103
Phone: 805-898-2263