The author of the acclaimed children's historical fiction book Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes (1977), Coerr also penned Sam the Minuteman (1995); Josefina Story Quilt (2006); Biography of a Kangaroo (1976); and many other children's novels and picture books.
After earning an undergraduate degree in English from American University, she obtained a master's in library science from the University of Maryland and subsequently worked as a journalist, newspaper editor, and creative writing teacher. She published her first children's book, Twenty-five Dragons, in 1971.
Her Japanese childhood best friend inspired her enduring interest in Japanese culture and history, which, in turn, eventually led her to write her most famous literary work.
She was born and raised in Saskatchewan, Canada. During her three-decade marriage to diplomat Wymberly De Renne Coerr (which ended with his death in 1996), she lived in the Philippines, Thailand, Brazil, Taiwan, the United States, and Japan.
She authored a 1976 young adult work about the famous primatologist Jane Goodall.