An American children's author and screenwriter, he is best known for works such as The Whipping Boy and Humbug Mountain. In 1994, he was the United States nominee for the prestigious Hans Christian Andersen Award.
When he was nineteen years old, he published Between Cocktails, a manual of magic tricks. He later studied at San Diego State College, served in the U.S. military during World War II, and published his debut mystery novel, The Straw Donkey Case.
His screenplays include Blood Alley (1955) and Goodbye, My Lady (1956).
He was born to Russian-Jewish parents in New York City. He and his wife, Betty, had three children: Paul, Jane, and Anne.
He wrote the screenplay for Blood Alley, a 1955 film starring John Wayne.