Posted by: Kathy Temean | May 23, 2021

Book Giveaway: BEST DAY EVER by Michael J. Armstrong

Michael J. Armstrong has written a picture book book, BEST DAY EVER, illustrated by Eglantine Ceulemans and published by Sterling Childrens Books on June 2nd. Sterling has agreed to send a copy of this book to one lucky winner. 

All you have to do is leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know, so I can put the right amount of tickets in my basket for you.

Sharing on Facebook, Twitter or reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. So, thanks for helping Vicky and Tidawa.

If you have signed up to follow my blog and it is delivered to you everyday, please let me know when you leave a comment and I will give you an extra ticket. Thanks!


Summer’s just about over—and William wants to end it by having the BEST DAY EVER! But can a buttoned-up, Type-A kid let loose and embrace a day filled with free-range fun?

“Fun with a capital F.” —Kirkus 

It’s the last day of summer vacation and William—a little boy who loves order and schedules—has just one thing left to accomplish: have the most fun ever. He’s even created a fun-o-meter to help him achieve his goals. But nothing he does seems special enough. Even worse, William’s fanciful next-door neighbor, Anna, keeps interrupting his plans with increasingly outlandish suggestions—like trampoline bouncing to the moon to find dinosaur bones or riding talking seahorses to an underwater castle. Can these two seemingly different kids find a way to have the best day together . . . and maybe become friends, too? This charming picture book about a child who always follow the rules is a must-read for kids and parents in need of a funny, gentle reminder to get creative and let their imaginations run wild.


Maybe because Best Day Ever is my first published children’s book, its journey was probably a little more circuitous than most. It was about five years ago, and at that point in my fledgling writing life I had a problem with word counts. I struggled mightily with the need to put into words story aspects that could or should be shown in the artwork. So, I decided to write a story with no words – only illustration notes – to get a feel for what it means to rely on artwork to help tell a story. Of course, I didn’t want to waste one of my “good ideas” on this exercise, so I quickly rummaged through the junk drawer of my life for a storyline.

At the time, I was a stay-at-home dad and I took it very seriously. Too seriously. I felt I had made a huge sacrifice to stay home, and that in turn fueled my need to treat every moment like an important teaching opportunity. I over-planned, over-structured, and over-stressed. One day I remember being exhausted while watching my daughter play in the backyard. She was ignoring all her “educational” toys and playing with a stick. And she was having the best time ever. That’s when the light bulb flickered on. I needed to loosen up and let her engage in imaginative play. (In hindsight, it’s embarrassingly obvious. But when you’re an exhausted, first-time parent, the obvious can sometimes slip through your greasy, peanut-butter-stained fingers. That’s my excuse, anyway.)

Not long after, I wrote a wordless story about a little girl playing with a stick. The idea was that her neighbor – a kid with a ton of toys but no imagination – sees how much fun the girl is having, and keeps trying to trade his toys for her stick. The exercise was very helpful, but I also ended up with a story that I kind of liked. So, between working on my real manuscripts, I wrote it again with a tiny bit of dialogue. And again. And again. Then I shared it with a critique group.

Cut to six months later, I’m at a SCBWI conference and I have a chance to share a story with an editor the next day. My plan is to show him a rhyming one that I’ve been working on for over three years – I assume it’s my best story because it’s the one I’ve put the most time into. That evening, the conference organizers invite everyone up to read two minutes of their manuscript in front of the entire group, guests and editors included. I’m absolutely exhausted, having driven six hours to get to the conference and I’m fighting off a cold. But I get up, my knees shaking and my voice hoarse and failing, and I proceed to butcher my story. It’s horrible. Everyone was nice, but it was BAD.

That night, alone in my hotel room, I’m beside myself. I can’t share this story with the editor tomorrow. No way. I begin tearing through my works-in-progress. Nothing seems good enough. Then I come across my exercise. It needs to be cleaned up, but it might do. I get to work.

The next day I shared my story with the editor from Sterling. After reading it to him, he took a pause and then his exact words were, “I can fix this.” Not necessarily a glowing review, but the interest was there. I couldn’t believe it.

After the conference, we passed the manuscript back and forth for about six months – each time his suggestions make it a better story – until finally Sterling acquired it. Even then it took over another two years until it was actually published. And every step of the way, I was worried that it would never get see the light of day (thanks for always being there, imposter syndrome).

Then, one day a case of hard copies landed on my doorstep. It was one of my best days ever.

Of course, it goes without saying that Best Day Ever would’ve never made it to the shelves without my editors at Sterling, SCBWI, my critique group and my insanely talented illustrator, Eglantine Ceulemans. Writing books is truly a collaborative process, and at times it’s seems unfair that just my name is on the cover as the author.


After beginning his career as a marketing professional, Michael Armstrong changed course and joined the nonprofit world. He served as the Executive Director of The ALS Association, The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, and other nonprofit organizations.

When his daughter was born, Mike left his job to become a stay-at-home dad. Soon after, he began writing children’s books (and rekindled his love affair with Play-Doh). Today he is an active member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), and is represented by Curtis Brown, Ltd. His first book, Best Day Ever, will be released by Sterling Publishing in May 2020, and he has several additional titles on the market. Mike also rehabs old houses, has an unhealthy obsession with sports trading cards, and ignores the fact that his 80-pound dog desperately needs a bath. He lives in Cleveland, Ohio.

You can learn more about Mike at


My name is Églantine Ceulemans. I was born not that long ago for adults but ages ago for children.
I wanted to be a secret agent, but as I need glasses, they sadly didn’t let me in. Therefore, I became an illustrator and author, for children mainly.

I can now live wild adventures while staying warm at home: less risks involved (thank god) but just as invigorating.

I work now for France and abroad, you can find me here: Penguin US, Bloomsbury UK, Harper Collins US, Bonnier UK, Hachette UK… and some others!

Feel free to contact me for any inquiries or projects, I’d be happy to answer your questions:  eglantine.ceulemans [at] you can also contact my lovely agent at PlumPudding: chloe [at]

Michael, thank you for sharing your book and journey with us. It’s such a imaginative book. I think it will encourage children who read the book to put on their thinking caps and come up with new ideas. Good luck with the book!

Talk tomorrow,




  1. I love this book ,as the title is what I say to my class each and every day


  2. This looks really fun! I love the part in Michael’s bio of all the charitable organizations he’s worked with. 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼


  3. I had a favorite stick too! Congratulations Michael and Églantine ❤


  4. It’s amazing what a simple stick can become – inspiration for children and adults! Congratulations!


  5. Reblogged this on Journey to the Top of the World.


  6. Congrats to you Michael! What a journey! The book looks wonderful.


  7. What a great journey to publication! Thank you for sharing. The book looks wonderful. Sticks can be the best toys around. After all, they are never just a stick to little ones. Thanks for sharing. I will share, and I subscribe to your blog, Kathy.


  8. Looks like a terrific book. William reminds me of the son of a friend of mine, right down to the little round glasses. Thanks very much for the chance to win a copy.
    I’ve tweeted a link to this post :, and share don PInterest too:
    I also follow daily by email: crs(at)codedivasites(dot)com
    Thanks again, have a great day everyone!


  9. Congrats, Michael! (I’m signed up for the emails, too.)


  10. Love the story of how this book came to be! Congrats!


  11. What a great premise! And I love the story of how this book came to be. Thanks to Michael and to Eglantine for sharing your wisdom — and congratulations on your book! Can’t wait to read it. (I’m signed up for the emails too.)


  12. Thanks for the story of this book’s journey. Very inspiring. I follow your blog by email.


  13. Thank you for sharing your book journey! Congratulations on this book! Looks like a fun read.


  14. “I can fix this.” Oh my goodness. I wouldn’t know whether to laugh or cry. This is one of the most memorable “how I got my editor” stories I’ve ever heard. I hope you share it at every conference. (Kathy, I subscribe to your blog.)


  15. I shared on FB and twitter! Looks awesome.


  16. Best day ever! Love it! The story and the detailed illustrations look wonderful. Congratulations to both of you! Yay!

    Kathy, I follow by email and I tweeted this post.


  17. I love books about imagination!


  18. I think my son would really enjoy this book!


  19. Shared on Twitter:


  20. Shared on Facebook:


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