Fleischman was a founding member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators and had been on its board of advisors since its inception in 1972.
"Humor is the oxygen of children's literature," he told the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch in 1997. "There's a lot of competition for children's time, but even kids who hate to read want to read a funny book."
Born March 16, 1920, in Brooklyn, Fleischman grew up in San Diego, where he began studying magic as a child. As a teenager, he performed in vaudeville and nightclubs. His first book, a collection of magic tricks he had created, was published when he was 19.
After serving in the Navy Reserve aboard a destroyer escort during World War II, hegraduated from what is now San Diego State University in 1949. He worked as a reporter on the San Diego Daily Journal and was associate editor of a small magazine before he began writing fiction full time in 1951.
Fleischman's "The Charlatan's Handbook," a 1993 compendium of magic tricks, was written for professional magicians.
"He was somebody, more than anyone I know, who loved his work; he loved to write," said Oliver. "He also was a great magician. He was devoted to that, and I think he regarded writing as magic."
Indeed, Fleischman's 1996 autobiography for young readers is titled "The Abracadabra Kid: A Writer's Life."
His wife, Betty, died in 1993. In addition to his son, who also is a Newbery Medal-winning writer, Fleischman is survived by his daughters, Jane Fleischman and Anne Fleischman Miller; his sister, Arleen Kornet; and four grandchildren.