Author of children's literature and historical fiction whose best known works include Island of the Blue Dolphins and The Black Pearl. The former book won the 1960 Newbery Medal, and its German translation won the Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis jsut three years later.
He studied at Occidental College, the University of Wisconsin–Madison, Stanford University, and the University of Rome-La Sapienza before serving in the U.S. Air Force during World War II.
His birth name is O'dell Gabriel Scott, but he rearranged it for publishing his children's books.
He was born in the Los Angeles area to Bennett Mason Scott and May Elizabeth Gabriel.
He was a 1972 recipient of the prestigious Hans Christian Andersen Award in children's literature.