#ShareAReviewDay Tuesday – The Heart of Applebutter Hill by Donna W. Hill

Please help me welcome our second guest of the day, Donna W. Hill, who will be sharing a lovely review from her book The Heart of Applebutter Hill. I’m sure this one will speak to many of you, and you’ll be happy to share it on your favorite social media. Thanks!


The Heart of Applebutter Hill
by Donna W. Hill

 Reviewed by Jacqueline Williams

From the Editor: Jacqueline Williams has taught in New York, in Uganda, and on the San Carlos Indian Reservation in Arizona. After she earned a master’s degree in special education from Northern Arizona University, she served as a special education teacher and administrator in Mesa, Arizona. Now retired, she writes poetry and serves as dance coordinator in the Mesa public schools.

The Heart of Applebutter Hill
 by Donna W. Hill

 Smashwords Press, 2013, 346 pages

 Available in print and as a Kindle ebook, and from Bookshare and Learning Ally.

The Heart of Applebutter Hill is a story of suspense and a passage through adolescent growth. Coping with vision loss and bullying are combined with adventure and fantasy, demonstrating Donna Hill’s vivid imagination. This novel will inspire teachers and readers who want to be part of the solution to bullying and other actions that harm the disadvantaged.

The cover of The Heart of Applebutter Hill, showing a hand holding a blue heart, a cave with stalactites in the background. The book leans against a flowerpot with a beautiful amaryllis.The book traces the difficulties of Abigail, a fourteen-year-old blind girl; her sighted companion, Baggy; and her guide dog through a challenging high school experience. Abigail uses her talents as a songwriter, a teacher of kindergarten students, a searcher for answers to a mystery, and a good friend to those who are ready to accept her.

Abigail and her best friend, Baggy, are refugees from the Isle of Adiaphora. With Abigail’s guide dog, Curly Connor (a.k.a. the Fluffer-Noodle), Abigail and Baggy confront new and exciting puzzles. They travel on the Cloud Scooper over familiar places and amazing landscapes, mooring at castles, mystic forests, and fields of talking flowers.

Donna Hill’s depiction of blindness is beautiful and true. She conveys the reality that gradual vision loss is a fluid, ever-changing condition, running a gauntlet that few can imagine until it happens to them:

She was also living on the fringes of two worlds. She wasn’t totally blind, and there was no way of knowing if or when she ever would be. Nevertheless, she couldn’t see normally. 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. The only things she could say for sure were that she couldn’t see at night and that her peripheral vision was . . . well, gone.

The Heart of Applebutter Hill includes terrific examples of excellent teaching through poetry and other writing. In the chapter entitled “Writer’s Round Table,” the stern teacher gives out a list of forbidden four-letter words. Writers know these words as pitfalls, and the author does not miss many opportunities to teach the craft of writing:

When he reached Abigail, Thornhammer pressed a stiff card into her hand. She fumbled with it and, after getting the Braille right-side up, read, “Professor Thornhammer’s Banned Four-Letter Words.” Her heart raced in anticipation of the words he might have included, but the list was a simple one: like, sure, very, fine, and just.

This scene involves Abigail and fellow classmate Tommy, who uses accessible books due to a physical disability. The scene takes place in the Adaptive Education Resource Room at the Plumkettle Learning Center and gives futuristic ideas of ways children may be able to program technology.

The resource room was a large classroom that had been “modified.” Doors on the north wall led to Miss Kiffle’s office and a private study. Long tables with computers, closed circuit TV’s, Braillers, and embossers lined the other walls. A U-shaped cluster of sofas occupied the center of the room. On the table to the right of the doorway sat an electronic globe; every Plumkettle classroom had one, and they doubled as the school’s intercom.

As he opened his mouth to ask yet another question, a series of chimes rang out from the globe. Thinking it was the announcement to head to the auditorium, everyone turned toward it. The classroom lights dimmed, and those who could see witnessed the continents being sucked–with appropriate sound effects–into the oceans.

“Florida and Italy are flopping around like fish,” said Tommy, giggling his way through an explanation of the visuals for Abby’s benefit. . . .

Miss Kiffle, with her face scrunched up to restrict her laughter, bustled over to the globe and punched in the code to reset it.

I highly recommend this book to middle-school students, teachers, media center directors, and teachers in special reading programs. The book cries out for a list of characters and a glossary of terms and place names. Designing such a glossary could be a great semester project.


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 a terrified cat, the truth is revealed. Soon, police are involved.

Apple iTunes

*The Heart of Applebutter Hill, a high school mystery with excursions into fantasy, is also available in accessible formats for readers with print impairments through Bookshare and Learning Ally.

Author Donna W. Hill

Donna Hill has spent much of her life working with blind people, especially young people, trying to help them live fulfilling lives. This book is her effort, through fiction, to convey the heart of the matter and to create expectations that are as high for the blind as they are for the general population. She is saving proceeds from the sale of print and electronic versions of The Heart of Applebutter Hill to create a hard copy Braille version.

Connect with Donna on Social Media Here:
Donna’s Website & Blog: http://DonnaWHill.com
Facebook mobil: https://m.facebook.com/home.php?r5af25bf3&refid=8
FaceBook.com: http://www.facebook.com/donna.w.hill
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dewhill
LinkedIn:  http://www.linkedin.com/in/dwh99
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7126655.Donna_W_Hill

37 thoughts on “#ShareAReviewDay Tuesday – The Heart of Applebutter Hill by Donna W. Hill

    • She’ll be so happy to hear you enjoyed it, Mae! I forgot to email her that it went live this last hour, and must do so right now! (That’s what happens when I get buried in my own work. Doh.) Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

    • Mae, thanks so much. I feel so blessed that it was written by such an accomplished person as Jackie Williams and published in Future Reflections, which is a wonderful magazine. Glad you stopped by and commented!

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Hi Marcia, thanks so much for sharing Jackie’s review of my novel. It means a lot to me. And, don’t worry about being late; I was a little buried in my own stuff today too. Trying to work while men with electric tools carry on 20 feet from my desk. We’re getting a sun room, so I guess I shouldn’t complain. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Having recently gone through over four months of work crews rebuilding our smashed garage and re-roofing the house, I can really relate to how disruptive it can be! Glad I finally had a moment to sit down at the computer again and contact you, and happy to see you here, now. This was a lovely review to share today, and I thank you for taking part. Hope your new sun room turns out to be a wonderful addition to your home. 🙂 ❤


      • Marcia, I figured you’d be able to relate. This is a small project by comparison. I also just switched from Outlook 2003 with MS Office H&S 2010 to Office 365, and I’m not a happy camper. Spell check doesn’t work with my screen reader and Outlook is a tideous mess. Not that I’ve exhausted resources to learn to use it, but this is the revenge of the nurds.

        Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Debby, Nice to be hear and to meet up with you again. Glad you liked the review. My apologies for being late to answer. We were two hours away to visit our nephew and his family, and got home much later than we intended.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Donna. Never apologize for when you show up at a blog, we have so much going on and life is always happening in between. The posts will always be here so don’t stress the small stuff. ❤

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thanks Debby, It’s nice that you understand that. BTW, here’s how backed up I am. I have a folder with over 600 posts that I thought looked interesting in it. We just got our sun room put in, so I’m hoping I can get something done this weekend.

          Liked by 1 person

            • I get anywhere from 100 to 500 emails a day, averaging about 300 most days. But I’m VERY VERY good at scanning and deleting fairly quickly, paring down to various sub-folders, like Must Answer Today, Can Wait a Couple of Days, Answer One of These Days, and No Way in Hell Will I Get Around to This Until They Show Up Again. 😀 😀 😀 (Okay, I made that last one up totally. But I do organize them in order of what can’t wait and what can. I’d never be able to do anything but answer emails all day long, otherwise. 😯 😀

              Liked by 1 person

              • That’s what I’ve finally learned to do Marsh, pare down because I was spending 4 hours night, every night for a few years because I’d get overwhelmed about how much more I’d have to catch up the next day. I get notifications by email, the blogs I know who post many a day I chose to receive daily then I pick and choose 1 or 2 of their posts and move on, it seems Mondays are weekly blog notifications with tons of blogs. I do the same, depending on if I’m pressed for time. I don’t open those emails til evening cuz once I do I’m in it, and I could literally be reading all day, lol. 🙂 x

                Liked by 1 person

                • Yep. You’ve got to find a system that works for you and the time you can afford to allot to it all. Especially the blog related emails. I love it when I’m caught up and can spend some extra time reading blogs I enjoy, but I haven’t gotten all the way back to that situation yet. But I do my best! I find weekly round-up posts to be my best chance for catching up with some of my favorite blogs. And if I see a book promo post, I try to do my part, especially with writers I’ve gotten to know online. Some weeks, I do better than others, but I feel sure every one of us knows exactly what I mean. If I wasn’t halfway through another book and several months behind on my scheduled release of it, it’d be different. Probably. 😀

                  Liked by 1 person

                • We do our best Marsh. I also try and share all promos I come across for my fellow authors. There are only so many hours in a day. 🙂 ❤


                • Debby & Sally, I found some tricks with my screen reader that make sharing easier, so I’m doing more of that. I’ve been using hastags for years. Don’t know how much that helps, but it can’t hurt.

                  Liked by 1 person

                • Hey, Debby, I hope you weren’t kidding about me deleting my 600 old unread blog posts, cause guess what I just did? And, to make sure I have to start afresh, I emptied my Deleted folder. It does feel good, even though I kept the ones I had stuck in the Opportunities folder. Cheers!

                  Liked by 1 person

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