Judy Patneaude

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David Patneaude began writing seriously (more or less) in the 1980s. After having a number of stories published in magazines, he saw his first novel, SOMEONE WAS WATCHING (Albert Whitman), hit bookstore and library shelves in May, 1993. Since then, his books have been named to dozens of state young readers' lists, winning awards in several state contests. The books have been honored by the New York Public Library (Books for the Teen Age), the Society of School Librarians International, the Winnetka (Illinois) Public Library's "One Book, Two Villages" program, the Washington State Public Library, and the Washington Center for the Book. SOMEONE WAS WATCHING was produced as a film (Dreamchaser Entertainment) by the same name in 2002. His 2010 YA novel EPITAPH ROAD (Egmont USA) was a nominee for the 2013-2014 Nebraska Golden Sower Book Award. His 2018 alternative history/sci-fi novel FAST BACKWARD has garnered much critical praise. In addition, it was named as a finalist for the 2019 Indie Excellence Book Award and 2019 Washington State Book Award, and a 2019 Five-Star Best Book by Chanticleer Book Reviews. It won the 2019 American Fiction Award ( for YA literature. David’s most recent books are UNEASY PICKINGS, a collection of spooky stories, and ROCKING CHAIR MOON, a YA novel in verse.

When he's not in a coffee shop writing, or at a school or library or conference discussing writing, or on the trail thinking about writing, he's home in Woodinville with his wife Judy, a retired middle school librarian.



BY • POSTED ON June 15, 2021

This novel in verse follows the lives of a brother and sister as they grow, face loss, and find themselves.

Ben Duran is 8 years old, and his sister, Carly, is 11 months his junior as their dual story begins in 1996. The siblings narrate their lives in free verse, trading viewpoints through 2007 and beyond. From the first, their voices establish differing personalities and concerns. Ben’s two years in kindergarten—“Dad smiled his rocking-chair-moon smile / and said it was my redshirt year”—make him “bigger and stronger and wiser and / ready for any challenge” compared to other students. Yet Ben keeps encountering challenges throughout his life, embodiments of his nightmare bogeyman, that can’t be conquered through physical achievements. Carly introduces herself as a “smarty-pants” with “an IQ that can’t be measured.” She deliberately uses advanced vocabulary (signaled with caps and italics) but, like Ben, discovers that strengths don’t mean invulnerability, as in this grief haiku: “To hell with big words. / Not one of them can describe / the pain in my heart.” In the end, both siblings find hope after loss, as seen in Ben’s baby girl’s smile, “the sweetly haunting shape of / a rocking-chair moon.” Patneaude, a prolific writer of children’s books and YA novels, skillfully uses verse to pare the extraneous. After Ben’s college girlfriend dumps him, for example, he suddenly joins the Army; just two lines capture the moment his decision sinks in, his “anger dissolving, / heart drumming.” Images can be quite striking, such as the ominous feel of “a cold slice of yellow light / under your parents’ bedroom door.” But at times, the verse becomes mawkish, as when the siblings’ mother imagines swallows shedding “small but bitter tears” when their “babies aren’t babies anymore.”

Poetic compression makes a vivid impact in this generally strong family story.

Pub Date: June 15, 2021

ISBN: 979-8-521277-69-8

Page count: 338pp

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Sept. 20, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

Awards, Press & Interests


Woodinville, Washington

Favorite author

Kurt Vonnegut

Favorite book


Day job


Favorite line from a book


Favorite word


Unexpected skill or talent

Talking to kids about writing (who knew there was such a thing?)

Passion in life

My family, and creating stories (in that order)

FAST BACKWARD: American Fiction Award (, Dante Rosetti Award (Chanticleer Book Reviews), Washington State Book Award (Finalist), 2019



Kellen Dent feels alone. And he has good reason. It’s 2097, and 97% of the men are gone. Thirty years earlier, an airborne virus caused the near-extinction of the male population. Now women rule every country, and poverty, crime, war, and hunger are just haunting memories, or topics in history books. But with tight restrictions on the lives and prospects of the remaining males, fourteen-year-old Kellen feels like he’s trapped in his present and lacking a say in his future. When he learns that a recurrence of the virus has been predicted for the isolated community where his outcast father lives, he knows that he must find his dad and warn him of the coming danger, no matter what the consequences. He’s surprised, and touched, when two new friends, Tia and Sunday, volunteer to join him as “minders” on his journey. During their desperate race to locate Kellen’s dad, they uncover secrets that shake Kellen’s core beliefs to their roots and make him fear for his life, the lives of his companions, and the future of the world. What are these secrets? Some have their origins in the past: a mysterious worldwide organization of women; a hush-hush laboratory on Grand Cayman Island; the relative ease with which women stepped in for dead male leaders to run the nations of the world. Some are anchored in the present: recurrences of the virus that seem to be targeted at outcast communities where men are trying to flex their muscle; a virus outbreak that can be “predicted”; the existence of another lab, masterminded and managed by a man, hidden in the remote hills near the settlement of outcasts where Kellen’s father lives. Once united with his dad, Kellen’s efforts to save him, and himself, are far from over. Along with his dad, Tia, Sunday, and Gunny, an outcast friend of his dad’s, Kellen makes his way to the backwoods lab, where his dad has a security job. When a former housemate of Kellen’s turns up as one of its leading scientists and tells him about her role in the project she and the other scientists are working on, the puzzle pieces begin to fall into place. But only temporarily. Then lies are revealed, betrayal surfaces, chaos ensues, and Kellen needs to choose sides and make life-or-death decisions and confront history and the people responsible for making it and perpetuating its brutal consequences.
Published: Oct. 16, 2010
ISBN: 978-1520549996


In July of 1945, Fifteen-year-old Bobby Hastings witnesses an atomic explosion near a top secret New Mexico army base. Terrified, he soon heads off on his bike for home, only to encounter something that rivals the blast for drama. A girl his age stands naked at the side of the lonely desert road: underweight, unwell, and speaking with a German accent. In the coming days, she unveils an impossible story about time travel and a heartbreaking outcome of the war. She begs people to believe her warning and prevent the awful future she claims to know too well. But if they do believe her, and the story is true, the biggest question remains: can history be undone?
Published: June 15, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-63393-614-0


In this collection of eleven stories—mostly new but also newly told—David Patneaude explores the in-between, the spaces and places and people and remnants of people that we instinctively know (and sometimes fear) are there. Somewhere. Not far away. A predawn shadow moving through a fallow field. The chill of bigotry in a human heart. A clown whose mission transcends laughter. Two damaged individuals coming together to create something beyond whole, something magical. Innocent victims of a neglected planet. Bigger-than-life characters who won’t take death lying down. An iconic statue with an appetite. Evil on the wing. Extraordinary wisdom from an old soul in a young body. A gruff but lovable superhero who evokes smiles while saving the day. “Things aren’t always what they seem,” Mrs. Caruso said. “Not what they seem at all. Sometimes they’re better.” Or spookier. Or braver. Or sadder. Or funnier. Or more enlightening. Or miraculous. Because every reader—young and not-so-young—is an individual, it’s difficult to say what emotions these stories will trigger. One of them may be uneasiness. But that can be a good thing.
Published: July 7, 2021
ISBN: 979-8533428040