Caravantes, Peggy 1935-
CARAVANTES, Peggy 1935-
PERSONAL: Born April 3, 1935, in Austin, TX; daughter of John Alfred and Dorothy (a china-painting artist; maiden name, Garner) Huddleston; married Ted Caravantes, March 29, 1957 (died June 4, 2001); children: Brian, Susan Richter, Jeffrey. Ethnicity: "Anglo." Education: Southwestern University, B.A., 1956; Trinity University, M.Ed., 1982. Religion: Methodist. Hobbies and other interests: Reading, working puzzles, shopping.
CAREER: Worked as an English teacher in several Texas school districts, 1956-82; East Central Independent School District, San Antonio, TX, worked variously as an assistant principal, principal, curriculum director, and deputy superintendent for instruction and personnel, 1982-99. Educational consultant and workshop presenter. Serves on Council of Stewards and Board of Disciples, and as a Stephen Minister at the Coker United Methodist Church.
MEMBER: Texas Middle School Association (member of board of directors), Phi Delta Kappa.
Petticoat Spies: Six Women Spies of the Civil War, Morgan Reynolds (Greensboro, NC), 2002.
Marcus Garvey: Black Visionary, Morgan Reynolds (Greensboro, NC), 2003.
O. Henry: William Sidney Porter: Texas Cowboy Writer, Eakin Publications (Austin, TX), 2003.
Sam Houston: No Ordinary Man, Morgan Reynolds (Greensboro, NC), 2004.
Contributor of "Ice to Scream," "Buffalo Soldiers," "The Last Laugh," and "The Silver Ring" to the "Power Up: Building Reading Strength" series by Steck-Vaughn.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Beyond Spellcheck (student activity book), for Holt (New York, NY).
SIDELIGHTS: After forty years of teaching middle-school and high-school English and serving as a school administrator, Peggy Caravantes achieved a long-held dream. When she retired from teaching, she finally had time to write stories and books for children, particularly nonfiction for young adults. While teaching, she told CA, "I noticed that many students never found books that interested them. My goal was to write one they enjoyed." Energetically, Caravantes set about making concrete her many book ideas. "To provide readable, enjoyable nonfiction that has a strong, accurate research base," the author told CA, she spent "hours poring over resources to find one more detail that might intrigue a young reader." Within three years of beginning her new career, Caravantes had written six and sold four nonfiction books, among them the biographies Sam Houston: No Ordinary Man, O. Henry: William Sidney Porter: Texas Cowboy Writer, and Marcus Garvey: Black Visionary.
"I write every day—some days I take notes from the research sources," Caravantes told CA. While researching American Civil War-era nurses, she discovered Sarah Emma Edmonds, who was both a nurse and a spy. This serendipitous find sparked the idea for Petticoat Spies: Six Women Spies of the Civil War, which, according to Patricia Ann Owens of School Library Journal, "covers a fascinating aspect of the war." In Petticoat Spies, the author tells the story of six women who spied for their governments.
Reflecting on her work habits, Caravantes added, "Other times I write rough drafts, revise, edit, or polish. I work with a critique partner who does not like nonfiction. If I can get her interested in my stories, I feel success!"
Caravantes offered novice writers the following advice: "I stand in awe of the excellent writing in all genres for children and young adults. Despite the competition from television and video games, young people do still read, and the selection has never been better. I encourage new writers not to become discouraged. Good writing is hard work, but perseverance does pay off. Write a few words every day. Talk to other writers; attend writing workshops and institutes. Don't ever give up."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, March 15, 2002, Carolyn Phelan, review of Petticoat Spies: Six Women Spies of the Civil War, p. 1254.
Children's Bookwatch, August, 2002, review of Petticoat Spies, p. 2.
School Library Journal, August, 2002, Patricia Ann Owens, review of Petticoat Spies, p. 204.