Posted by: Kathy Temean | March 27, 2018

Book Giveaway: WHAT THE NIGHT SINGS by Vesper Stamper

Illustrator Vesper Stamper has agreed to give away a copy of her debut young adult novel WHAT THE NIGHT SINGS to one lucky winner. All you have to do to get in the running is to 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 the other things you did to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you. Check back to discover the winner.


For fans of The Book Thief and The Boy in the Striped Pajamas comes a lushly illustrated novel about a teen Holocaust survivor, who must come to terms with who she is and how to rebuild her life.

After losing her family and everything she knew in the Nazi concentration camps, Gerta is finally liberated, only to find herself completely alone. Without her Papa, her music, or even her true identity, she must move past the task of surviving and onto living her life. In the displaced persons camp where she is staying, Gerta meets Lev, a fellow teen survivor who she just might be falling for, despite her feelings for someone else. With a newfound Jewish identity she never knew she had, and a return to the life of music she thought she lost forever, Gerta must choose how to build a new future.

“A tour de force. This powerful story of love, loss, and survival is not to be missed.” — Kristin Hannah, #1 New York Times Bestselling author of The Nightingale 

“What the Night Sings is a book from the heart, of the heart, and to the heart. Vesper Stamper’s Gerta will stay with you long after you turn the last page. Her story is one of hope and redemption and life — a blessing to the world.” — Deborah Heiligman, award-winning author of Charles and Emma and Vincent and Theo.


I’ve wanted to make picture books since I was a really little kid. That desire became more and more loaded as I chose college and career; I only made one minor detour when I spent my freshman year of college at a school for theatrical scene design (long story short, I practically ran back to New York and into Parsons’ illustration program). I really wanted to impact kids, especially those for whom books could be a lifeline—those who had been traumatized, neglected, disadvantaged in any way. We’ve all talked to that kid or grownup who credits a book with changing their course.

That’s what I wanted to do—make books that changed lives, one kid at a time. But in my whole career, I have not sold one of my own written picture books. I’ve illustrated several for other authors, but my writing was not finding its place. This is part of the reason I chose the MFA program in Illustration as Visual Essay at SVA—for its writing and storytelling focus. I was able to pull back and explore books from a broader perspective, letting my writing wander without worrying about word count restraints, age or genre, just the art of the book itself. I found that long format writing suited me best, at least right now. I had written an unpublished novel just the year before, and found that I could do it again, and that I hadn’t run out of things to say.

In grad school in 2014, I was working on What the Night Sings (then called The Orange Tree). My agent, Lori Kilkelly, was simultaneously shopping a picture book of mine; it was roundly rejected. One editor at Knopf, however, said to keep her in mind for future submissions. When Lori asked this editor what she might be looking for, she replied that she was passionate about finding “books about World War II and the Holocaust, for any age.” Lori called me right away, and we set about prepping this grad school project for a proper submission. Karen Greenberg wound up becoming my beloved editor on What the Night Sings.

It was definitely not the typical submission process, but we all know that there’s nothing “typical” about creating books for young readers! It’s been an amazing journey with so many surprises. People obviously care deeply about the subject of the Holocaust, especially as we lose so many survivors to old age, and as many discover that kids are not even learning about it in many cases. It’s a privilege to do this work.

I’m sure that in the future—hopefully the near future—the right picture book manuscript will come my way, and I’m hopeful that my own writing will eventually circle back around to picture books. But I am enjoying novel-writing immensely, and have another one in the works as we speak.

You, too, might have a topic in mind that you feel passionate about, but wonder if it’s just a pet project. Don’t be so sure. I can testify that when you follow your own curiosity until it becomes an obsession, you’ll do your best work. Be open to what the story wants, even if it differs from your previous path. You never know what will happen.


Vesper Stamper was born in Nuremberg, Germany and raised in New York City. Her family was an eclectic mix of engineers, musicians and artists who didn’t think Voltaire too tough for bedtime reading, Chopin Valses too loud for wake-up calls, or precision slide rules too fragile as playthings. She married filmmaker Ben Stamper right out of college, and together they have two wildly creative children. When Vesper earned her MFA in Illustration from School of Visual Arts, Ben gave her an orange tree. She illustrates and writes under its leaves and blossoms at her grandfather’s old drafting table, in the pine woods of the Northeast.

Vesper, thank you for sharing your book and journey with us. I can’t wait to read it. If it is anywhere close to your wonderful illustrations and you, I know I will love it and I’m sure the winner will love to read it, too.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. History has much to teach us with many stories to tell. Thanks for telling this one and for sharing your writing journey with us.


  2. Wonderful interview.


  3. I have heard about this both since such a long time ago when I interviewed the editor and can’t wait to actually finally read it. Best of luck to you, Vesper!


  4. I love your pb illos, Vesper, but am excited to read your authorial debut! Congratulations!


  5. I can’t wait to read this!


  6. I love Vesper’s art – can’t wait to read her novel!


  7. Reblogged this on Darlene Beck-Jacobson.


  8. What a wonderful story about the road to publication and never giving up. I adore Vesper’s art and would love to have a copy of this historical novel. I reblogged, tweeted and posted this to FB. Thanks for the opportunity to share Vesper’s talent.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This sounds like a heartfelt and much needed book.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. What an interesting writing journey you’ve had! I’m fascinated because your success came from a totally different angle than you expected. It’s great that you had the flexibility and awareness to recognize your opportunity.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I’m hearing such great things about this book! I’m a huge fan of WWII books so I can’t wait to read this one!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I’m glad you’re unafraid to write what speaks to you, Vesper. I look forward to reading What the Night Sings.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Love her work!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Love her work!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. What a wonderful and important book. I’d love to have a copy, thanks for the chance to win one.
    I’ve tweeted a link:, and pinned an image with a link on Pinterest:
    Thanks again, have a great week!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Vesper, what a joy to read 🙂 You just NEVER know where your journey will take you. It amazes me that your picture book work hasn’t worked out as far as the writing yet, but so often it’s about timing. Lori is wonderful and I love hearing how the dots connected with this. Congrats on it! I must know—did you do your own cover? It’s beautiful!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Great interview! Can’t wait to read the book. Thanks for a chance to win one.

    Liked by 1 person

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