Caravantes, Peggy 1935–

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Caravantes, Peggy 1935–

PERSONAL:

Born April 3, 1935, in Austin, TX; daughter of John Alfred and Dorothy (a china-painting artist) 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.

ADDRESSES:

Home—San Antonio, TX. E-mail—[email protected]

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.

WRITINGS:

Petticoat Spies: Six Women Spies of the Civil War, Morgan Reynolds (Greensboro, NC), 2002.

O. Henry: William Sidney Porter: Texas Cowboy Writer, Eakin Publications (Austin, TX), 2003.

American Hero: The Audie Murphy Story, Avisson Press (Greensboro, NC), 2004.

An American in Texas: The Story of Sam Houston, Morgan Reynolds (Greensboro, NC), 2004.

Marcus Garvey: Black Nationalist, Morgan Reynolds (Greensboro, NC), 2004.

Waging Peace: The Story of Jane Addams, Morgan Reynolds (Greensboro, NC), 2004.

Best of Times: The Story of Charles Dickens, Morgan Reynolds (Greensboro, NC), 2005.

Deep Woods: The Story of Robert Frost, Morgan Reynolds (Greensboro, NC), 2006.

Writing Is My Business: The Story of O. Henry, Morgan Reynolds (Greensboro, NC), 2006.

Contributor of "Ice to Scream," "Buffalo Soldiers," "The Last Laugh," and "The Silver Ring" and to the "Power Up: Building Reading Strength" series by Steck-Vaughn.

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 five years of beginning her new career, Caravantes had published nine nonfiction books, among them the biographies An American in Texas: The Story of Sam Houston, O. Henry: William Sidney Porter: Texas Cowboy Writer, and Marcus Garvey: Black Nationalist.

"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's mission to create attention-grabbing nonfiction has paid off with critical praise from reviewers. School Library Journal contributor John Sigwald remarked that "following an appealingly literary opening" in An American in Texas, "Caravantes crafts an absorbing biography." Best of Times: The Story of Charles Dickens was described as "interesting reading and well documented," by Marilyn Fairbanks in another School Library Journal review. Regarding Deep Woods: The Story of Robert Frost, School Library Journal critic Tracy Karbel called it "an exceptional, easy-to-follow examination," and Booklist contributor Carolyn Phelan called the book a "very readable account of Frost's often troubled life" that is "well organized and clearly written."

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:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, March 15, 2002, Carolyn Phelan, review of Petticoat Spies: Six Women Spies of the Civil War, p. 1254; August 1, 2005, Hazel Rochman, review of Best of Times: The Story of Charles Dickens, p. 2013; September 15, 2006, Carolyn Phelan, review of Deep Woods: The Story of Robert Frost, p. 52; February 1, 2007, Carolyn Phelan, review of Writing Is My Business: The Story of O. Henry, p. 41.

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; November 1, 2003, Mary R. Hoffman, review of Marcus Garvey: Black Nationalist, p. 154; May 1, 2004, John Sigwald, review of An American in Texas: The Story of Sam Houston, p. 164; February 1, 2005, Jennifer Ralston, review of Waging Peace: The Story of Jane Addams, p. 146; December 1, 2005, Marilyn Fairbanks, review of Best of Times, p. 162; June 1, 2006, Tracy Karbel, review of Deep Woods, p. 172; November 1, 2006, Anne Chapman Callaghan, review of Writing Is My Business, p. 157.