About ClassZone  |  eServices  |  Web Research Guide  |  Contact Us  |  Online Store
ClassZone Home
McDougal Littell Home
Language Arts: Novel Guides
Home > Language Arts > Novel Guides > Author Profiles > Scott O'Dell

Scott O'Dell

Born May 23, 1898 in Los Angeles, Scott O'Dell was able to see many parts of southern California and enjoy many experiences with nature as a child. His father was a railroad worker, so the family moved often. As a boy O'Dell relished his outdoor activities, which included paddling to sea on logs, prying abalones from their hiding places, and searching for fish in caves.

As an adult, O'Dell worked as a cameraman, most notably on the movie Ben Hur. He enlisted in the Air Force and served in Texas during World War II. Later, he worked as a book editor for a Los Angeles newspaper. He became a full-time writer in 1934, first writing both fiction and nonfiction for adults. In the late 1950s, he began to write books for children.

O'Dell's contribution to children's literature has been significant. He received the Newbery Medal for Island of the Blue Dolphins and Newbery Honor recognition for three of his other books. His other honors include the Hans Christian Andersen Award for lifetime achievement. In 1981, O'Dell established the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction, awarded annually to a work for young people set in the New World and written by a U. S. citizen.