An American fiction writer, she is best known for Miracles on Maple Hill, which won the 1957 Newbery Medal. Her other works for children include Curious Missie, Plain Girl, and Lotte's Locket.
She grew up in Utah and lived for a time in Eerie, Pennsylvania.
She received two Guggenheim Fellowships: one to study Mexican Indian tribes, and one to study in Denmark.
Her first husband, Frederick C. Sorensen, was a professor at Indiana State University. She later married Alec Waugh.
She and Karen Hesse both won the Newbery Medal.