An award-winning children's author, he is best known for his Encyclopedia Brown books, which focus on the adventures of a young and intensely smart detective.
Before studying at Oberlin College, he was a member of the World War II Army Corps of Engineers. He began his writing career with The New York Sun.
He was the author of almost seventy children's and nonfiction books, and he also wrote for numerous magazines using various pen names.
He was married to Rose Tiplitz Sobol.
He and fellow author, Sue Grafton, were both recipients of Mystery Writers of America awards.