Intro to The Heart of Applebutter Hill for Educators by Dr. Karen Squier

On a hill, a Navaho-red shelter with steep white roof and porch rail is reflected in the pond: by Rich HillDr. Karen Squier, O.D., Clinical Assistant Professor, Southern College of Optometry (Memphis, Tennessee ), shares her impressions of The Heart of Applebutter Hill by Donna W. Hill.

The Heart of Applebutter Hill is an exciting and fascinating story that follows 14-year-old Abigail through her journey in her new community. She has dual adventures, one as a refugee with visual impairment in a main stream school and another as she and her best friends try to solve a mystery that develops throughout the novel. It’s an interesting tale for everyone, whether visually impaired or normally sighted. Abigail’s adventures in and out of school are at times a whirlwind, but entertaining and inspiring all the while!

Abigail develops a support system with her new family and friends (including a talking acorn!) that, along with her guide dog Curly Connor, allow her to enhance her own strengths and develop her independence. Some of her instructors encourage her to achieve despite her visual limitations. Others discount her abilities — unfortunately, an all too common issue encountered by students with disabilities.

Abigail also learns that, in addition to her singing voice, she has a voice and an opinion that her peers respect and appreciate. She learns to self-advocate and gains confidence throughout the novel.

Functional vision in the presence of damage to the visual system fluctuates with changes in environment and lighting. In new environments and unexpected changes in sunlight, these changes are difficult to adjust to and compensate for — let alone tolerate. Hill’s early description of Abigail’s vision — “Her sight had become a wild animal, beautiful and dangerous. It was an unpredictable, ever-changing display of shadows and blurry glimpses, tunnels and glaring light” — is one of the best I’ve ever read of the struggle with these unpredictable and untamable changes.

The biggest impression this book made on me was the lesson of learning Braille instead of relying completely on audio books. Learning the intricacies of grammar and spelling has so much value. Also, Braille eliminates the misinterpretations of inflections and meanings rampant when a synthetic speech is allowed to deliver most of the information necessary to complete a task or read a book. This is a lesson taught eloquently to some of Abigail’s sighted classmates who try to skirt around a reading assignment. The resource room Abigail uses is well equipped and modern, and her vision teacher is a fantastic role model and instructor.

— Karen Squier, O.D.
Optometrist Dr. Squier is a Clinical Assistant Professor at Southern College of Optometry (Memphis, Tennessee (. Formerly a Clinical Professor at Illinois College of Optometry and an optometrist at the Chicago Lighthouse, she is one of only 45 optometrists worldwide to earn the highest level of certification in low-vision care offered by the American Academy of Optometry (AAO):

Purchase The Heart of Applebutter Hill & Help Blind Students

The Heart of Applebutter Hill book cover shows cave scene: stalactites reflected in an underground lake, while a hand holds the Heartstone of Arden-Goth, a blue, heart-shaped sapphire


CreateSpace eStore:

eBook versions can be purchased at these and other outlets

eBook Universe:
Nook Book:
Apple iTunes:
Smashwords (7 eBook formats, including .epub, .mobi, .pdf and .rtf):

Outside the US

Amazon Canada (print & Kindle):
Amazon UK (print& Kindle)

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

JPeg of the article “Meshoppen Author’s Novel Goes Audio” published by the WyoPress Examiner (9/23/15), announces Learning Ally’s publication of a human-narrated version for readers with print disabilities.

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!

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:

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.

Accessibility Issues for People Using Screen Readers

Screen reader users, there are 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:

1 Response to Intro to The Heart of Applebutter Hill for Educators by Dr. Karen Squier

  1. Pingback: Bridging the Great Divide: Counting on a Fictional Blind Girl | The Heart of Applebutter Hill

So, what do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.