This morning, I’d like to welcome Donna W. Hill back to The Write Stuff. Donna is sharing another review of her book, The Heart of Applebutter Hill. I know you’ll enjoy reading this one, and will pass it along on your favorite social media sites. Thanks so much!
5.0 out of 5 stars
A wonderful combination of fantasy and reality
August 10, 2014
In an age of confusion about refugees, bullies, standardized education, and what to do about people who can buy their way into anything in the world, “The Heart of Applebutter Hill” takes on all of these–and more–through the sensitive viewpoint of a 14-year-old blind girl who must confront not only these obstacles but also the day-to-day issues of adolescence. Being blind physically is not what holds Abigail Jones back; the virtual blindness of those around her–especially the adults–is an even bigger challenge. With the help of her wonderful guide dog, Curly Connor, and her best friend, she is able to take charge of more than one uber-difficult situation.
The author weaves a tale that is part Harry Potter, part Nancy Drew, part Dr. Who, and yet, completely original, because her heroine has to overcome a disability that the people in the world around her view as paralyzing. The reader, however, knows that Abigail is stronger and has better vision than those whose eyes have not physically failed them. She treats everyone she meets equally–until that person earns her distrust or disdain. And yet, she is also able to forgive those who would do her harm.
I was impressed with the way in which this writer was able to create new worlds, new ways in which the characters interact with each other and their pro- and antagonists, creative ways in which to solve problems, and ways in which to show how cruel people can be to others who are different and who may not “fit in.” The combination of fantasy and reality is just right. I think this is a book that would be excellent for sixth- or seventh-grade readers. The vocabulary is advanced enough not to patronize that age group, and teachers would also find that their students in that age group could learn new words–and maybe even some lessons about how to treat one another.
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.
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.
Purchase The Heart of Applebutter Hill Here:
*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.