Laura Crawford Memorial Mentorship

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about Laura


Laura Crawford, Author

This mentorship was established in memory of picture book author Laura Crawford, an active and enthusiastic member of our Illinois chapter, who made it her mission to help other writers on their publishing journeys. A tireless cheerleader, with an encyclopedic knowledge of publishing houses, she nudged people to go to conferences, asked about others’ projects, and shared whatever she knew. Funny and determined (she submitted manuscripts every Sunday!), her life revolved around other people. In her job as an elementary school reading specialist, she inspired a love of books in those for whom she wrote. She was a mentor herself—as an educator and as a writer.

Who supports this prize?

Illinois does not receive your dues to support its fee free mentorships and scholarships! This scholarship is supported by Illinois' event attendees and the profits of our paid programming, after faculty, venue and other programming expenses paid. If you would like to make a donation to the Laura Crawford Memorial Mentorship, please contact us at It is through conference fees and generous donations that SCBWI-Illinois is able to make such opportunities available.

When is this opportunity offered?

The schedule of the Laura Crawford Memorial Mentorship is on an 18-month rotation that alternates focus between novel and picture book. SCBWI-IL can choose not to award the mentorship for a given cycle.

Laura's books

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In Arctic Waters (Sylvan Dell, 2013)


Benjamin Franklin from A to Z (Pelican Publishing, 2013)

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The American Revolution from A to Z (Pelican Publishing, 2009)

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The Pilgrims’ Thanksgiving from A to Z (Pelican Publishing, 2005)

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Postcards from Chicago (Raven Tree Press, 2008)


Postcards from New York City (Raven Tree Press, 2008)

Catherine Velasco, ARA, In Conversation with Lisa


Get to know our 2024 Mentor

Catherine Velasco has an in-depth conversation with Lisa about the opportunity, Lisa's feedback process and why you should apply in this inspiring insider look at our Illinois mentor.


The applicant must be an SCBWI Premium Member, residing in Illinois, who has never traditionally published a picture book or chapter book.

– All applicants must be members throughout the 6-month period. 

– Online application is AUG 1 through AUG 7 (11:59 PM CST)

– Please follow application directions. Applicants that do not will be asked to resubmit their application only if time allows.

– Upload the manuscript in its entirety. In order to apply, applicants should have at least finished a complete draft of your mss, but preferably you are submitting a work of multiple-drafts and that has been peer-critiqued.

– Upload your application package of a ms, 1-page artist statement and completed member questionnaire.

–Use Word document as opposed to a pdf. 

–Please use only alphanumeric characters, spaces, and hyphens when naming your documents (no apostrophes). See GUIDELINES for details.

If you are having difficulty with the online submission process, please Email We will consider the date stamp of your initial troubleshooting email to be your submission time while we work through any online application issues with you. SCBWI-Illinois appreciates your patience and help as we work together to make this process convenient and equitable for all users and improve the experience for future applicants.




Before applying, please be sure you can make this a 6-month commitment: 

  • AUG 1st-7th: Online applications accepted. 
  • First week SEP: Winner announced
  • By OCT 1: Written comments delivered to winner and discussed via 
  • phone/Zoom/In-Person Meeting
  • By NOV 1: First Revision handed in
  • By DEC 1: Zoom/Phone/In-Person meeting regarding manuscript's progress, further revision suggestions.
  • By JAN 1: 2nd revision handed in
  • By JAN 31: Final discussion

2024 Mentor


Lisa Katzenberger, Author

Lisa Katzenberger is the author of several books for children, including It Will Be OK: A Story of Empathy, Kindness, and Friendship, A Love Letter to My Library, CROC & GATOR: Swamp Ranger School, I Can Do It Even If I'm Scared: Finding The Brave You, and It Belongs to the World: Frederick Banting and the Discovery of Insulin. Lisa is on the faculty of The Writing Barn where she teaches picture book writing courses including Perfecting the Picture Book, Writing Social Emotional Learning Picture Books, and Write. Submit. Support. She lives in La Grange, Illinois with her husband and two children.

Mentorship Goals

Lisa will work with her mentee on a picture book or chapter book manuscript of any genre, over a 6-month period, focusing on one aspect of their mss, for further development—characterization, plot, emotional arc, theme—whatever she and her mentee decides needs Lisa's expertise! The two goals of the mentorship are to (1) help the writer ready his/her/their manuscript for editorial submission and publication and (2) help the writer grow professionally.

Lisa's books


A Love Letter to My Library (Sourcebooks eXplore, June 2024)


CROC & GATOR SERIES Book 1: Swamp Ranger School (Pixel & Ink, June 2024)


I Can Do It Even If I'm Scared: Finding the Brave You (Sourcebooks eXplore, July 2024)


It Belongs to the World: Frederick Banting and the Discovery of Insulin (Clarion, October 2024)


It Will Be Okay: A Story of Friendship, Kindness and Empathy (Sourcebooks eXplore, 2021)


National Regular Average Ordinary Day (Penguin Workshop, 2021)

Past Mentors & Recipients

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2015 Picture Book Text Winner: Amy Alznauer | Mentor Esther Hershenhorn, RAE


2016 Novel Winner: Gay Lynn Cronin with Mentor Sarah Aronson, PAL

2018 Picture Book Text Winner: Elaine Bearden with Mentor Julia Durango, PAL

2019 Novel Winner: Holly Jones with Mentor Kate Hannigan, PAL

2020 Non-fiction PB Text Winner: Claire Reck with Mentor Suzanne Slade, PAL

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2022 Novel Winner: Veronica Rundell with Mentor Michael Leali, PAL