Maretha is a South African Italian, born in a small town called Montagu. She grew up in nearby Worcester in the Western Cape – a town reminiscent of living in Switzerland among the snow-capped mountains.
Worcester had a small library. Young Maretha’s visits were limited to three times a week, because the librarian told her, “You spend too much time with your nose in a book and neglect your school work.”
Nothing much has changed, because she's still a confirmed bookworm who constantly strives to raise more bookworms who enjoy reading, not just as a pleasant past-time, but as an excellent tool to be used when grown-up.
Before immigrating to the UK to settle in Lancashire, Maretha worked as a librarian in a private school in Botswana, where one of her tasks was to encourage children to enjoy reading. That was a labour of love for this bookworm, providing valuable help in carving her own career as a children's author/illustrator. It brought her face to face with the literary industry’s toughest critics – children and preteens.
She saw that many students also enjoyed reading about birds and animals, their care, habitats and general well-being, especially when a few added catchy rhymes here and there made reading sessions interesting and alive.
In 2012 her job was localised and as things often happen, this unforeseen occurrence led to a new chapter in her life. To remain motivated, she wrote down everything she could remember about her family's pets – their little habits and characteristics.
For example, the character of the working-dog hero in Fauna Park Tales is based on the different traits of every single dog her family ever owned. Researching habits, habitats and interesting titbits about martial eagles and eagle owls, as well as many smaller birds such as crimson-breasted shrikes and hoopoes,made it easier to illustrate them and tell a believable story. Her illustrations appear throughout Fauna Park Tales.
Maretha Botha admits to being a chocoholic and unreformed coffee addict, a keen gardener and bird watcher, who likes to walk on the moors where the stiff breeze coming in from the sea, quickly clears her head, making way for more inspiration.