Robin Fidler Brancato was born on March 19, 1936, in Reading, Pennsylvania to W. Robert and Margretta (Neuroth) Fidler. After receiving her Bachelor of Arts degree in Education at the University of Pennsylvania in 1958, she worked as a copy editor for John Wiley & Sons in New York City until 1961. She married John J. Brancato on December 17, 1960; they have two sons. From 1967 to 1979, Brancato taught English, journalism, and creative writing at Hackensack High School in Hackensack, New Jersey. She published her first novel, Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree, in 1975; a year later, she received a Master of Arts degree from City College of New York.
A popular writer of contemporary fiction for young adults, Brancato received the American Library Association Best Book award three times: in 1977 for Winning, in 1980 for Come Alive at 505, and in 1982 for Sweet Bells Jangled Out of Tune.
As a young adult, Robin Brancato preferred realism in the fiction she read. That preference is reflected in her writing. Her novels, Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree (1975), Something Left to Lose (1976), and Winning (1977), are drawn from her experiences as a teacher.