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David Patneaude (1944-) Biography - Personal, Career, Member, Honors Awards, Writings, Work in Progress, Sidelights

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Born 1944, in St. Paul, Minnesota; Education: University of Washington, B.A., 1971. Politics: "Independent." Religion: Presbyterian. Hobbies and other interests: Reading, running, outdoor activities, coaching kids' sports, watching movies and plays.

Career

Farmers New World Life Insurance Co., Mercer Island, WA, former supervisor; writer. Member, Pacific Northwest Writers Conference; speaker. Military service: U.S. Navy, 1966-70; received Vietnam Service Medal.

Member

Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.

Honors Awards

Prairie Pasque Children's Book Award, South Dakota, Children's Book Award, Utah, and Best of the Texas Lone Star Reading Lists citation, all for Someone Was Watching; Books for the Teen Age citation, New York Public Library, for The Last Man's Reward; Honor Book citation, Society of School Librarians International, for Framed in Fire; books named to over twenty state young-readers' lists.

Writings

Someone Was Watching, Albert Whitman (Morton Grove, IL), 1993.

When Josh moves to a new school in Idaho, he finds new friends, but also makes new enemies when his weight marks him as a target of the school bully. (Cover illustration by Doron Ben-Ami.)

Dark Starry Morning: Stories from This World and Beyond, Albert Whitman (Morton Grove, IL), 1995.

The Last Man's Reward, Albert Whitman (Morton Grove, IL), 1996.

Framed in Fire, Albert Whitman (Morton Grove, IL), 1999.

Haunting at Home Plate, Albert Whitman (Morton Grove, IL), 2000.

Colder than Ice, Albert Whitman (Morton Grove, IL), 2003.

Thin Wood Walls, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2004.

Deadly Drive, Albert Whitman (Morton Grove, IL), 2005.

Work in Progress

A picture-book manuscript, a middle-grade sports book, and two YA suspense/mystery novels.

Sidelights

David Patneaude made his name as a children's book author with creepy, suspenseful tales, sometimes featuring supernatural forces and sometimes purely human wrongdoers. His first published book, Someone Was Watching, falls into the latter category. Thirteen-year-old Chris Barton's little sister Molly goes missing and is presumed to have drowned in a river near their summer home in Florida, but after watching a home video of her last day with the family, Chris thinks there may be another explanation for her disappearance. Along with his friend Pat, Chris withdraws all of his money from his savings account and heads off to Florida to look for her. "Middle schoolers will love it," John Sigwald declared in School Library Journal. Sigwald and a Kirkus Reviews critic both pointed out that the fact that no one questions two thirteen-year-old boys traveling cross-country alone is slightly unrealistic, but, as the Kirkus Reviews contributor concluded, the characters' "grief and reactions to various dilemmas are so pure and credible that readers will willingly put doubts aside to join in the search."

The Last Man's Reward centers on four friends, all of whom are living in the same temporary apartment complex. When they buy a boxful of baseball cards together at a yard sale, they find themselves with a serious dilemma: among the run-of-the-mill cards, they also find a rare Willie Mays rookie card, worth around $4,000. Which one of them should get the card? They finally decide that it should be the reward for the last one of them to move out of their current apartments. Then one of the boys, Albert, discovers that their unfriendly gym teacher desperately needs money to pay for his wife's cancer treatment, and he decides that the teacher should have the money from the sale of the card. But when Albert goes to get the card out of the cave where the boys had hidden it, he becomes trapped. In The Last Man's Reward Patneaude "shows that suspense is possible without outright villainy," wrote a Kirkus Reviews critic, and Booklist reviewer Francis Bradburn thought that "most early adolescents will be able to identify … totally" with this "truly exciting adventure."

Colder than Ice is another chilling tale, in more ways than one. In the middle of a northern Idaho winter, Josh becomes the new kid in school, and, if just being new is not enough to make him a target for the school's bullies, his excess weight also attracts unwanted attention. However, one bully, Corey, becomes very friendly with Josh—suspiciously friendly in the opinion of Josh's other friends, Mark and Skye. The two turn out to be right, although Corey's true motive is much worse than they suspected. The novel's climax is a "dramatic, heart-pounding scene that will stay with readers long after they put down the novel," according to Booklist reviewer Lauren Peterson. "Anyone who has ever been new to a school, dealt with bullies, or just not known whom to trust will relate to Josh and his dilemmas," Karen T. Bilton concluded in School Library Journal.

With Thin Wood Walls Patneaude branches out into a new genre: historical fiction. The book follows Japanese-American boy Joe Hanada, as his family tries to cope with prejudice against people of Japanese ancestry during World War II. The Hanadas are relocated from their home in the White River Valley of Washington state, near Seattle, to an internment camp in California—minus Joe's father, who is taken away by the FBI only hours after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The book's title refers to the walls of the miserable one-room shack in which the Hanada family is now forced to live, but this is just one of the many indignities they face in the camp. Even after Joe's older brother Mike volunteers to join the U.S. army, white Americans still question the Hanadas' patriotism. "Joe's first-person narrative is moving and clear in its depiction of this life, so cruel and unfair," wrote a Kirkus Reviews contributor. Thin Wood Walls is also notable for depicting the divisions among the Japanese-Americans who are subjected to this ordeal; while some, like Mike, remain patriotic, others renounce their American identity, even going so far as prohibiting their children from speaking English. Patneaude "does a fine job of bringing the daily experience [of Japanese-Americans during World War II] up close through the story of an American kid torn from home," Hazel Rochman concluded in Booklist.

Patneaude once told Something about the Author: "Like a lot of other writers, I loved to read as a young person, and I often thought about what it would be like to be a real writer—an author of real books. After several decades of thinking about it, reading books, reading about writers, and taking writing courses, I decided it was time for me to try it, to write something intended for someone else to read. And I decided that I wanted to write for young people.

"My motivation? First, to entertain—to give them the kind of enjoyment I used to get when I dove into a really good story. Beyond that, I'd like to get a message across, without writing some kind of heavy-handed 'message' story. Someone Was Watching, for instance, is a mystery/adventure, but it's also about love and responsibility and commitment and the importance of believing in yourself, in your ideas when others tell you you're wrong, when they say it's impossible, when they try to take away your dreams."

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, July, 1993, Susan DeRonne, review of Someone Was Watching, p. 1958; September 1, 1995, review of Dark Starry Morning: Stories of This World and Beyond, p. 78; June 1, 1996, Frances Bradburn, review of The Last Man's Reward, p. 1720; September 1, 2000, Denia Hester, review of Haunting at Home Plate, p. 118; November 1, 2003, Lauren Peterson, review of Colder than Ice, p. 497; September 15, 2004, Hazel Rochman, review of Thin Wood Walls, p. 234.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, November, 1993, review of Someone Was Watching, p. 94.

Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 1993, review of Someone Was Watching; August 15, 1995, review of Dark Starry Morning; March 15, 1996, review of Last Man's Reward; March 15, 1999, review of Framed in Fire; September 1, 2004, review of Thin Wood Walls, p. 872.

Publishers Weekly, March 1, 1999, review of Framed in Fire, p. 70.

School Library Journal, July, 1993, John Sigwald, review of Someone Was Watching, p. 86; September, 1995, John Sigwald, review of Dark Starry Morning, p. 220; July, 1996, Elaine Lesh Morgan, review of The Last Man's Reward, p. 1720; September, 2000, Barb Lawler, review of Haunting at Home Plate, p. 235; October, 2003, Karen T. Bilton, review of Colder than Ice, p. 175; October, 2004, Ginny Gustin, review of Thin Wood Walls, p. 175.

ONLINE

David Patneaude Home Page, http://www.patneaude.com (February 27, 2005).

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