Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

SCBWI-Illinois Laura Crawford Memorial Mentorship

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. (For a complete list of Laura’s books, click here.)



Michael Leali is a writer and educator living in the suburbs of Chicago.

He is a graduate of Vermont College of Fine Arts where he earned his MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults.
The Civil War of Amos Abernathy (HarperCollins) is his debut middle grade novel, and it’s already making a splash.
Check out the blog post by Mr.SchuReads! and
Michael will work with his mentee on an agreed upon aspect of a novel manuscript over a six-month period.  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.



Application Requirements:

–The applicant must be an SCBWI member, residing in Illinois, who has never traditionally published a middle grade or young adult novel.
–All applicants must be members throughout the 6-month period.  Members must LOG INTO your SCBWI account to access the application.  Only SCBWI members residing in Illinois may apply for this FREE member opportunity.
–Online application is June 1, 2022 through June 8, 2022 (11:59 PM CST)
–Please follow application directions.  Applicants that do not will be asked to resubmit their application only if time allows.
–Per Section III of the online application, please submit the manuscript in its entirety. In order to apply, you 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.
–For best results, please log into SCBWI and use Google Chrome as your browser. Send your ms and artist statement as a Word document as opposed to a pdf.  Please use only alphanumeric characters, spaces, and hyphens when naming your documents (no apostrophes).

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.




The 2022 Schedule is as follows:

June 1st-8th, 2022 : Online applications accepted.

June 27th, 2022: Recipient, chosen by Michael Leali, announced. Together, participants decide upon one aspect of the ms upon which to focus for further development.

August 1st, 2022: Mentor will deliver written comments to the mentee and discuss via phone/Zoom Meeting or in-person

NOTE: As all SCBWI-IL Mentors are working professionals, the mentee will allow for some schedule variation: if the mentor is delayed in delivery of written comments, the schedule will shift to give mentee adequate time to deliver a first revision and subsequent revisions thereafter.*

September 1st, 2022*: Receive first revision

October 1st, 2022*: Phone/Zoom meeting regarding manuscript’s progress.

November 1st, 2022*: Receive second revision

November 31st, 2022* Complete a final discussion of the manuscript.


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. 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.


The Laura Crawford Mentorship Recipient

2015 Picture Book Text:  Amy Alznauer                         Esther Hershenhorn, RAE
2016 Novel: Gay Lynn Cronin                                        Sarah Aronson, PAL
2018 Picture Book Text: Elaine Bearden                        Julia Durango, PAL
2019 Novel: Holly Jones                                                 Kate Hannigan, PAL
2020 Non-fiction PB text: Claire Reck                             Suzanne Slade, PAL
2022 Novel                                                                       Michael Leali, PAL