Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Laura Crawford Memorial Mentorship

The winner of the 2018 Laura Crawford Memorial Mentorship is ELAINE BEARDEN for her manuscript, GROW.
Many thanks to all the applicants and our 2018 Mentor, Julia Durango for choosing from among so many deserving applications.

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.)


We are proud to announce that our 2018 mentor is Julia Durango.

JuliaWebSize-3  Julia Durango is the author of picture books, novels, and poetry for kids of all ages. Her books have received numerous awards and honors, including the Golden Kite Fiction Award and the Prairie State Award for Excellence in Writing for Children. Her most recent picture book, The One Day House (Charlesbridge, 2017), is a Junior Library Guild selection and was cited as “a labor of love honoring labors of love” by Kirkus Reviews. When she’s not writing, she works for LaSalle County CASA, a volunteer organization that advocates for abused and neglected children in the Juvenile Court System. Julia lives with her sons in Ottawa, Illinois, and can be found online at


Julia will work with her mentee on one picture book manuscript over a six-month period.  The two goals of the mentorship are to (1) help the writer or writer/illustrator ready his/her manuscript for editorial submission and publication and (2) help the writer or writer/illustrator grow professionally.


The applicant must be an SCBWI-Illinois member who has never had a picture book traditionally published. Click HERE to download an application packet.


The 2018 Schedule is as follows:

December 1-7 (2017): Applications accepted

First week of January 2018: Winner, chosen by Julia Durango, announced

By February 1st: Written comments delivered to winner and discussed via  phone/Skype/In-Person Meeting

By March 1st: First Revision handed in

By April 1st: Skype/Phone/In-Person meeting regarding manuscript’s progress, further revision suggestions

May 1st: 2nd revision handed in

June 1st: Final discussion


If you would like to make a donation to the Laura Crawford Memorial Mentorship, please contact us at It is through generous donations that SCBWI-Illinois is able to make such opportunities available.

The Laura Crawford Mentorship Recipient                Mentor
2015 Picture Book Text:  Amy Alznauer                         Esther Hershenhorn, RAE, SCBWI-IL
2016 Novel: Gay Lynn Cronin                                           Sarah Aronson, PAL
2018 Picture Book Text: Elaine Bearden                        Julia Durango, PAL