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.)



We are proud to announce that our 2019 mentor is Kate Hannigan.


Chicago children’s author Kate Hannigan joined SCBWI when woolly mammoths roamed the land and artists painted on cave walls. After many, many years collecting rejection letters, her often excruciating lessons in grit, resilience, and humility started to pay off. Formerly a journalist for daily newspapers, Kate now writes fiction and nonfiction for young readers, digging up remarkable people from history and sharing their stories.

Kate’s historical fantasy for middle-grade, CAPE (Simon & Schuster/Aladdin), includes graphic novel elements and draws upon the earliest comic book heroines of the Golden Age of Comic Books. It is part of a three-book series titled THE LEAGUE OF SECRET HEROES that blends superheroes and real-life women from World War II — original computer programmers, brilliant code-crackers, courageous spies, and daring pilots. CAPE hits shelves in August!

Her historical mystery THE DETECTIVE’S ASSISTANT (Little, Brown) about America’s first woman detective won SCBWI’s Golden Kite Award for best middle-grade novel, was optioned for film, and was a California Young Reader Medal nominee. Her picture book biography of Belva Lockwood, A LADY HAS THE FLOOR (Boyd’s Mills), spotlights an early suffragette and first woman on the ballot for president. It was named a Society of Midland Authors 2019 Honoree, a Chicago Public Library “Best of the Best” 2018 pick, a Junior Library Guild selection, a Mighty Girl “Best of 2018” pick, an Amelia Bloomer Project selection, and earned four starred reviews. She is also the author of the three-book cooking caper CUPCAKE COUSINS (Disney/Hyperion), picked for the Illinois READS State List as well as Chicago Public Library’s “Best of the Best.”

Kate has a variety of books set to publish in the next few years, including three more picture book biographies and a graphic novel. When she’s not running the South Side Chicago/Hyde Park Network of SCBWI, you can find her walking her anxious Australian shepherd and wrestling with how to plot her next manuscript. Visit Kate online at, on Instagram @KateHanniganBooks, and on Twitter @KateChicago.


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


The applicant must be an SCBWI member, residing in Illinois, who has never traditionally published a novel. Online application begins June 1, 2019.
Be prepared to submit the following in a blind application process: 

— Contact information
— SCBWI Membership expiration date.
— What (if any) children’s material/work have you published to date?
— Which SCBWI-Illinois and/or SCBWI events (if any) have you attended in the past three years?
— List any classes and non-SCBWI workshops and conferences in which you’ve participated the past three years.
–Critique Group Status
— 500-word Artist’s Statement that addresses a) what mentorship would mean to you b) your goal in applying c) how you are working to hone your craft & career d) why you write/what you hope to contribute with this ms to children’s literature, etc.
— FULL Manuscript draft

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.



The 2019 Schedule is as follows:

June 1-7: Online applications accepted.
Mid-July 2019: Recipient, chosen by Kate Hannigan, announced.  Together, participants decide upon one aspect of the novel ms upon which to focus for further development.
Between August 1st and August 15th: Mentor will deliver written comments to the mentee and discuss via phone/Skype/In-Person Meeting.
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.*
By September 1st*: Receive first revision
By October 1st*: Skype/Phone/In-Person meeting regarding manuscript’s progress.
By November 1st*: Receive second revision
By November 30*: 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 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
2019 Novel: Announced July 2019                                   Kate Hannigan, PAL