PERSONAL: Daughter of Julius and Elizabeth Theisz; married Winfield A. Tatham (an accountant), 1955; children: Richard, Susan Crotts. Ethnicity: "Caucasian." Education: Fairleigh Dickinson University, B.A. (sociology; cum laude); graduate study at Fordham University and University of Utah. Hobbies and other interests: Gardening, music, conducting scientific and historical research.
ADDRESSES: Home—Holland, PA. Agent—c/o Author Mail, HarperCollins Children's Books, 1350 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10019.
CAREER: Young Women's Christian Association of Hackensack, Hackensack, NJ, executive director, 1973-76; Young Women's Christian Association of Salt Lake City, Salt Lake City, UT, executive director, 1976-85; State of Utah, Salt Lake City, assistant to the governor in area of health and social services and member of Cabinet Council, 1985-87; Utah Department of Human Services, Salt Lake City, training specialist and executive assistant for programs, 1987-91; Young Women's Christian Association of Bucks County, Trevose, PA, executive director and chief administrative officer, 1992-2003. National Young Women's Christian Association Leadership Training Institute, faculty member, beginning 2001; also lecturer at local schools. Bucks County Review and Evaluation Committee, member, 1992; Bucks County Family Services System Reform Collaborative Board, member; Bucks County Opportunity Council, member of board of directors; Bucks County Wellness Partnership and Bucks County Violence Prevention Task Force, member; Bergen County Volunteers in Juvenile Corrections, charter board member; Utah Domestic Violence Council and Legislative Task Force, past chair; Bergen County Committee for the Rehabilitation of Juvenile Offenders, past co-chair. HealthLink (clinic), member of advisory board.
MEMBER: Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Association of United Way Executive Directors (president), National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (member, board of directors).
AWARDS, HONORS: Jane Adams Agency Award (Utah chapter), National Association of Social Workers, 1983; Woman of Achievement Award, Utah Central Region of Business and Professional Women's Clubs, 1983; Area Community Service Award, American Association of Retired Persons, 1988; Spirit of American Woman Award, J. C. Penney and Co., 1989; Woman Who Makes a Difference Award, Health Partners, 1995; Community Service Award, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (Bucks County branch), 1995; Bucks County Women's History Month Award, 2001; Woman of Distinction Award, Soroptimist International of Indian Rock, 2002.
Penguin Chick, illustrated by Helen K. Davie, HarperCollins Children's Books (New York, NY), 2002.
How Animals Shed Their Skin, F. Watts (New York, NY), 2002.
How Animals Communicate, F. Watts (New York, NY), 2003.
How Animals Play, F. Watts (New York, NY), 2003.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Danger by the Delaware, a historical fiction picture book; I Want to Go Home, a picture book for preschoolers; Humpback Whale and Amazing Hummingbirds, science picture books.
SIDELIGHTS: Betty Tatham told CA: "The Young Women's Christian Association of Bucks County, where I was the executive director for more than ten years, has tutoring programs in fifteen schools and in five other sites. I designed and implemented these programs where teachers supervise teen volunteers who work with younger students to help them improve reading, writing, and other academic skills. While purchasing several thousand dollars' worth of books in 1996 for these programs, I spent many weekend hours in bookstores, poring over children's books. Some were so beautiful that I wished I could write that well. I set out to find a teacher. I was fortunate that Wendy Pfeffer, a published author of children's books, was willing to give me private lessons in her home for the next three years. Writing became a passion and, while my full-time job was very demanding, I wrote as much as I could.
"In 1996, I researched and wrote Penguin Chick. I signed a contract with HarperCollins in early 1999, and my first book was published three years later. Doing science research is almost as much fun for me as writing. I love animals, and most of the books and manuscripts I have written are about animals. It is sad that many species are endangered, and I hope that my books will inspire children to love and respect animals so that they will work to protect them when they are older.
"While hiking with my husband, I found a snakeskin, and that led to my second book, How Animals Shed Their Skin. Researching this subject was especially challenging since I couldn't find any book by that title for children or adults, and I had to do much of the research at the Biology Library at Princeton University. An editor I had met at a conference suggested that I send the manuscript to the Grolier Division of Scholastic, and that led to three contracts with the publisher F. Watts.
"I recently completed my first historical fiction picture book manuscript. It is based on an event that took place on December 24, 1776, just a few miles from my home in Holland, Pennsylvania. There are several museums specializing in Revolutionary War history in the area, and General Washington crossed the Delaware River about five miles from where I live. I expect to keep writing science books, but I enjoy an occasional change to fiction.
"School visits are probably the most exciting aspect of being an author. I love sharing how I became a writer, why I chose each subject, where and how I do research, who edits my manuscripts before I submit them, what editors look for, the publishing process, et cetera. I also enjoy answering questions and sharing additional information about the animals I have written about, and I show students some spectacular pictures of Antarctica. I encourage children to 'read, read, read!' and I recommend keeping a journal."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, March 1, 2002, Carolyn Phelan, review of Penguin Chick, p. 1138.
Horn Book, May-June, 2002, Danielle J. Ford, review of Penguin Chick, p. 347.
Kirkus Reviews, November 15, 2001, review of Penguin Chick, p. 1615.
School Library Journal, March, 2002, Nancy Call, review of Penguin Chick, p. 222.
Woman's Day, May 22, 1990, Grace W. Weinstein, "Volunteering for Success," p. 81.
Betty Tatham Web site,http://www.bettytatham.com (May 21, 2003).