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Kids’ book a labor of love

January 5, 2019 GMT

WESTVILLE — When Heather Zivkovich was a communications major at Purdue University Northwest years ago, she never guessed that someday she’d be writing a children’s Christmas book.

“Heather was a bright star at Purdue Northwest. It’s completely fitting of her nature to finish her dad’s book as a tribute to his love,” said academic advisor, Beth Rudnick, referring to Zivkovich’s book, “Is My Grandpa Santa’s Elf?”

Published last November, the book, though born of tragic circumstances, carries a message of love and kindness related to the spirit of Christmas. The co-author is Bob Morgan, Zivkovich’s father, who passed away in April 2017.

Only hours before his death, Morgan shared a secret with his daughter – for years he’d been writing a Christmas book. His last wish was for her to pick up where he left off.

“I assured him to not worry, that I would finish it for him. Six hours later, he peacefully passed away with my mom, siblings, and me by his side,” she said. “It became my mission to finish it.”

The next day, finding everything on her father’s computer, Zivkovich started putting the pieces of the story together. She lovingly mused at her father’s writing style.

“He liked run-on sentences, so there was a tiny bit of cleaning up to do.”

The story is about Kay Rose, a young girl inspired by Zivkovich’s niece, and her questioning into whether her jolly, Christmas-loving grandfather is one of Santa’s elves.

Mary Jane Eisenhauer, associate professor of Early Childhood Education at PNW, said the colorful illustrations take young readers through a magical story capturing the essence of family and the holidays.

“Children will be drawn to the fun storyline and the beautiful artistry. Adults will recognize the importance of tradition and reminders of enduring love,” Eisenhauer said.

It’s a heartfelt sentiment drawn from Zivkovich’s connection with her father.

“We’ll have this bond forever; our relationship lives on in this book. Long after I’m gone, this book will still be out there bringing families together,” Zivkovich said.

She said her time at PNW helped give her the confidence to finish the book.

“I took a lot of communications classes and it gave me more confidence in myself. I was a pretty shy student at first,” said Zivkovich, who earned a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts at the Westville Campus in 2006.

“I also had professors that gave me confidence in myself,” she said, crediting Rudnick among others.

“Is My Grandpa Santa’s Elf?” is published by Mascot Books and available at most retailers, including Amazon. A page of the same name can be found on Facebook.

—From staff reports