Scott O'Dell

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Scott O'Dell
BornO'Dell Gabriel Scott
May 23, 1898
Los Angeles, California, USA
DiedOctober 15, 1989(1989-10-15) (aged 91)
Mount Kisco, New York, USA
Genre Children's historical fiction
Notable works
Notable awards Newbery Medal
Hans Christian Andersen Award
  • Jane Dorsa Rattenbury O'Dell (m. 1948, d. 1989)
  • Elizabeth Hall
RelativesLucille (sister)

Scott O'Dell (May 23, 1898 October 15, 1989) was an American author of 26 novels for young people, along with three novels for adults and four nonfiction books. He wrote historical fiction, primarily, including several children's novels about historical California and Mexico. For his contribution as a children's writer he received the biennial, international Hans Christian Andersen Award in 1972, the highest recognition available to creators of children's books. [1] [2] He received The University of Southern Mississippi Medallion in 1976 and the Catholic Libraries Association Regina Medal in 1978. [3]


O'Dell's best known work is the historical novel Island of the Blue Dolphins (1960), which won the 1961 Newbery Medal and the 1963 Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis in its German translation. [4] [5] It was also named to the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award list. He was one of the annual Newbery runners-up for three other books: The King's Fifth (1966), The Black Pearl (1967), and Sing Down the Moon (1970). [4]


Scott O'Dell was born O'Dell Gabriel Scott, but after his name was incorrectly published on a book as "Scott O'Dell", he decided to keep the name. He was born on Terminal Island in Los Angeles, California, to parents May Elizabeth Gabriel and Bennett Mason Scott. He attended multiple colleges, including Occidental College in 1919, the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1920, Stanford University in 1921, and the Sapienza University of Rome in 1925. During World War II, he served in the United States Army Air Forces. Before becoming a full-time writer, he was employed as a cameraman and technical director, as a book columnist for the Los Angeles Mirror , and as book review editor for the Los Angeles Daily News . He was married two times. His wives were Jane Dorsa Rattenbury, and Elizabeth Hall.

In 1934, O'Dell began writing articles as well as fiction and nonfiction books for adults. In the late 1950s, he began writing children's books. His first children's book was Island of the Blue Dolphins.

In 1984, he established the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction, an award for $5,000 that recognizes outstanding works of historical fiction. The winners must be published in English by a U.S. publisher and be set in the New World (North, Central, and South America). In 1986, The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books awarded O'Dell this same award. [6]

Scott O'Dell died of prostate cancer on October 15, 1989 at the age of 91. [7]

Film adaptations

There have been several film adaptations of O'Dell's work. Island of the Blue Dolphins has been translated into a number of languages and was made into a movie in 1964, starring Celia Kaye, Larry Domasin, Ann Daniel, and George Kennedy. In 1978, Saul Swimmer produced and directed a film version of The Black Pearl with Gilbert Roland and Mario Custodio. The King's Fifth was adapted into the 1982 anime television series The Mysterious Cities of Gold, a Japan-France co-production that was aired in several different countries.

Selected works


Children's book series

  1. Island of the Blue Dolphins , Houghton Mifflin 1/1960, ISBN   0-605-21314-3
  2. Zia , Houghton Mifflin 3/1976, ISBN   0-395-24393-9
Seven Serpents
  1. The Captive, Houghton Mifflin 1/1979, ISBN   0-395-27811-2
  2. Feathered Serpent, Houghton Mifflin 10/1981, ISBN   0-395-30851-8
  3. The Amethyst Ring , Houghton Mifflin 4/1983, ISBN   0-395-33886-7

Other novels

See also

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  1. "Hans Christian Andersen Awards". International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY). Retrieved 2013-07-17.
  2. "Scott O'Dell" (pp. 46–47, by Eva Glistrup).
    The Hans Christian Andersen Awards, 1956–2002. IBBY. Gyldendal. 2002. Hosted by Austrian Literature Online. Retrieved 2013-07-23.
  3. "Regina Medal" Archived 2012-04-27 at the Wayback Machine . Catholic Library Association. Retrieved 2013-07-17.
  4. 1 2 "Newbery Medal and Honor Books, 1922–Present". Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC). American Library Association (ALA).
      "The John Newbery Medal". ALSC. ALA. Retrieved 2013-07-17.
  5. (Scott O'Dell, all listings). Datenbanksuche (database search). Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis. Arbeitskreis für Jugendliteratur ( Retrieved 2013-07-17. For general information select "Infos zum Preis" or "English key facts".
  6. Scott O'Dell Award. 2013-07-17. [ full citation needed ]
  7. McDowell, Edwin (October 17, 1989). "Scott O'Dell, a Children's Author Of Historical Fiction, Dies at 91". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-04-10.