Welcome to the home of The Heart of Applebutter Hill. Written by journalist, singer-songwriter, civil rights advocate and avid knitter Donna W. Hill, it is an adventure-mystery with excursions into fantasy for general audiences. “Follow” The Heart of Applebutter Hill below and get Donna’s complete posts in your In Box, and be the first to know about upcoming contests and special features.
Proceeds from the sale of The Heart of Applebutter Hill provide Braille books for blind students. Did you know that Americans with vision loss and other print disabilities have access to only 5% of books and magazines? Imagine trying to compete in school, college or the job market with only 5% of the resources your peers have.
Meet the Author
Invite Donna W. Hill to be a guest speaker for workshops, seminars and classes. Topics include writing, self-publishing, guide dogs, songwriting, anti-bullying, accessibility and mainstreaming students with visual impairments. Write to her using the “Contact the Author” link on this page.
Download Reference Letters About Donna’s Presentations
This 48-page PDF contains a sampling of the reference letters written about Donna’s programs over her thirty-year career. File size: 21 mb.
Reference Letters for Donna W. Hills Presentations (21mb, PDF)
Comments from Readers
Amazon Customer Reviews
“This very real depiction of a blind heroine in a can’t-put-down young adult fiction style is a must-read. I found myself reflecting on what it would be like to travel in the “Cloud Scooper” for days afterwards. Along with fun travel ideas, this book raises very real issues surrounding a blind student frequenting a mainstream school classroom. I’d love this to be compulsory reading for young people at school.” – Jordina Howell (Melbourne, Victoria Australia)
“The proof is in the pudding, but in this case, the Applebutter. I saw this book occupy a 12 year old for an entire weekend with no electronic media involved. That is saying something good!
Then I read it myself. Good characters…good take on bullying and blindness. Hope there will be a sequel!” – Patricia Girven
“The Heart of Applebutter Hill” has a rare quality seldom found in YA books: it masterfully balances the wondrous and whimsical with the very real social challenges that young people face today. Though set in a mythical locale, the characters, descriptions and conflicts, never stray too far from our own world. This allows just enough familiarity that readers will easily find sympathetic, as well as empathetic feelings in their Applebutter Hill experience. Tackling everything from environmental consciousness and social etiquette to bullying and blindness, Donna W. Hill skillfully maneuvers between tough topics, adding liberal amounts of humor and light-heartedness, and keeps the story as buoyant as the book’s magical air ship; the Cloud Scooper.
Entertaining and educational, witty and full of wisdom, “The Heart of Applebutter Hill” is sure to delight while it delivers its many important messages. I recommend this book to parents and educators who are searching for material that will provide a bridge to open communication with young people about some of today’s most sensitive social subjects. Adults will find as much pleasure in the pages as children will, and a book like this is a beautiful gift to share.” Amy Krout-Horn
Read these and other reviews of The Heart of Applebutter Hill at: http://www.amazon.com/books/dp/1483948226
Reader Comments on DonnaWHill.com
“I was lucky enough to receive an email out of the blue about this book. It was a great adventure story with likable, well-rounded characters with lots of different abilities and struggles — many of which kids rarely get to read about! My favorite was Curly Connor, not many writers write dogs this well!
I’m excited to share this vision of what school can be also. What great classes. As a math teacher I wanted to learn more about the math in Survival 101. I am going to recommend this book to librarians and teachers I encounter.
Please, please write a sequel! I know it’s okay to be left wondering but I really want to read more about the characters and their adventures and there’s a lot left to keep writing about!” – Max Ray, 10/22/13
The Heart of Applebutter Hill: the Story
Imagine you’re 14 and in a strange country with your camera, your best friend, her guitar and her dog. You uncover a secret and are instantly in danger. Join Baggy, Abigail and Curly Connor as they explore Elfin Pond, sneak around Bar Gundoom Castle and row across an underground lake. The powerful Heartstone of Arden-Goth is hidden nearby, and corporate giants unleash a spy to seize it. Compelled to unmask the spy and find the Heartstone, they can’t trust anyone.
As summer heats up, their troubled friend Christopher is viciously bullied and an armed stranger terrorizes Abigail and Baggy. The friends disagree about the spy’s identity, but are convinced it’s a teacher. When a desperate Christopher shows up one night with the school cat, the truth is revealed. Soon, police are involved.
Purchase The Heart of Applebutter Hill & Help Blind Students
eBook versions can be purchased at these and other outlets
eBook Universe: http://www.philipsmith.eu/indie-author/donna-w-hill
Nook Book: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-heart-of-applebutter-hill-donna-w-hill/1115426305?ean=2940016415000&itm=1&usri=2940016415000
Apple iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-heart-of-applebutter-hill/id651693834?mt=11
Smashwords (7 eBook formats, including .epub, .mobi, .pdf and .rtf): http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/313071?ref=DonnaWHill
Outside the US
Amazon Canada (print & Kindle): http://www.amazon.ca/The-Heart-Applebutter-Hill-ebook/dp/B00CNG6DDM
Amazon UK (print& Kindle) http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Heart-Applebutter-Hill-Donna-ebook/dp/B00CNG6DDM/ref=dp_kinw_strp_1
accessible versions for Readers with print disabilities
Learning Ally: the world’s largest provider of volunteer-narrated audio textbooks and literature for people Who Read & Learn Differently
Formerly Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic, Learning Ally now carries The Heart of Applebutter Hill. In the VOICEtext format, highlighted synchronized text accompanies the human narration. Listen and follow the printed word at the same time! http://www.learningally.org/BookDetails.aspx?BookID=KV589
Bookshare: an Accessible Online Library for Readers with Print Disabilities
Digital DAISY text, audio & refreshable Braille versions of The Heart of Applebutter Hill are available at: http://www.bookshare.org/browse/book/639304
A Request from Donna
After you’ve read The Heart of Applebutter Hill, please rate it and leave a review on the site where you purchased the book. Thank you for your interest and support.
Press & Professionals Comment on The Heart of Applebutter Hill
Meshoppen author pens mystery novel – Wyoming County Press Examiner
“In a way, the tale acts as an all-encompassing guide to childhood, as it details the struggles of bullying, consumerism and being cast from society.” – Michael Wintermute, 1/1/14, Wyoming County Press Examiner http://archives.wcexaminer.com/index.php/2014/01/01/meshoppen-author-pens-mystery-novel/
Fantasy Novel Keeps it Real When Portraying Assistive Technology – About.com
“Lovers of young adult mystery and fantasy fiction should check out The Heart of Applebutter Hill, the first novel from writer, musician, and disability advocate Donna Hill.
…the book’s depictions of assistive technology caught my interest and kept me reading. This excerpt from Chapter 2 makes a concise, eloquent case for the crucial need for texts in alternative formats:
Abigail was almost as excited about recorded books as she was about having a guide dog. All of her life she had been made to read print. Even if the light was just right, the best she could do was to see a few letters at a time. Words appeared to dance around, and pieces of them would go missing between the page and her brain. In spite of the burning eyes and blistering headaches which ensued, she had always loved reading.
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I like the power the novel gives its legally blind heroine.” – Andrew Leibs, About.com Accessibility expert, 4/7/14 http://assistivetechnology.about.com/b/
The biggest project of my life – Wilkes-Barre Times Leader
“In the book Abigail fights discrimination from sighted people, from the school newspaper adviser who rejects her application to the man who pulls up alongside her in a car and yells because her dog just answered the call of nature.” MARY THERESE BIEBEL, 12/19/13, Wilkes-Barre Times-Leader http://timesleader.com/news/features/1050744/The-biggest-project-of-my-life
New children’s book – highly recommended by the UK’s Positive Eye
The Heart of Applebutter Hill, a great read for any young person ,follows the adventures of Abigail and her guide dog Curly Connor.” – Gwyneth McCormack, Educational Consultant, 4/14, Positive Eye: Educational training and consultancy for professionals working with kids with visual impairment http://www.positiveeye.co.uk/new-childrens-book-the-heart-of-applebutter-hill/
New Book for Young Adults Features a Main Character who is Blind – WonderBaby.org (Perkins School for the Blind)
“Are you familiar with the diversity watchdog group Diversity in YA? They track the Publishers Weekly bestsellers list for Young Adult novels with main characters and authors representing minorities. Their report for 2013 found no blind main characters and no blind authors.
… Their next report will read differently. Donna W. Hill’s young adult novel, The Heart of Applebutter Hill, is a story of adventure and mystery… and a little bit of magic.
The book follows Abigail and her best friends Curly Connor and Baggy Britchez. Abigail is a smart, talented girl in a mainstream school… who just happens to be visually impaired. And Curly Conner? That’s her guide dog!
Abigail’s visual impairment is presented as just one more part of her multifaceted personality. It isn’t ignored, but it isn’t the focus of her life either.” – Amber Bobnar, 6/3/14, WonderBaby.org: resources for parents of blind & disabled babies & children http://www.wonderbaby.org/news/heart-of-applebutter-hill
The Heart of Applebutter Hill has received pre and post-publication recommendations from professionals in education, rehabilitation and the arts, as a valuable tool for secondary and college-level diversity and anti-bullying initiatives. Their comments are at: http://donnawhill.com/recommenders-of-the-heart-of-applebutter-hill-from-professionals-in-education-rehabilitation-the-arts/
Read the “Introduction to The Heart of Applebutter Hill for Educators” by Dr. Karen Squier, O.D. (Chicago Lighthouse) at:http://donnawhill.com/intro-to-the-heart-of-applebutter-hill-for-educators/
Accessibility Issues for People Using Screen Readers
Screen reader users, there are significant issues with Word Press’s “Leave a Reply” form – which is labeled on this site “So, What Do You Think?”Here’s a “temporary” solution. Every page and post now has a link labeled “Accessible Comment Form for Screen Reader Users.” It will be sent to me, and I will post it on your behalf. The URL is: http://donnawhill.com/accessible-comment-form-for-screen-reader-users-3