Donna, who has been blind since birth, takes young readers on a fast-paced journey of high school mystery and fantasy to teach important lessons about bullying and stereotyping kids with disabilities. This is a great read for middle school and older readers.
The main character, Abigail, is a gifted teen who is blind. She and friends, including a boy who uses a wheelchair, go on an amazing journey, encountering many prejudices along the way. They travel to foreign lands, where they learn to be independent and have many unusual experiences. They uncover a camouflage air ship called the Cloud Scooper at Elfin Pond, discover a plot to steal the powerful Heartstone of Arden-Goth at Bar Gundoom Castle, and find an underground lake that holds powerful treasures. There’s even a suspenseful twist involving giants and spies.
Donna’s book is an intriguing story from beginning to end. It teaches important messages, while introducing kids to the beauty of literature, poetry, Greek mythology, history, and braille. Many adults will want to read the book, too!
“Most kids don’t have much involvement with classmates or adults who are blind,” says Donna. “My characters display a lot of courage and spunk. Their experiences will help readers draw new and positive conclusions about the true capabilities of kids who are blind and disabled.”
Though most of Donna’s plot is entirely fictitious, she incorporates incidents about her own life. “Many people made me feel miserable as a child, by allowing or participating in bullying,” she says. “There appeared to be no end to the torment I received as a blind kid, and these experiences made for perfect villains in the book.”
What does Donna read when she’s not engrossed in writing stories?
“I love thrillers and fantasy and all Harry Potter books. I like to read books written by fellow blind authors. I even learned to knit with books from Bookshare. And when I’m not working with neighboring schools, I write, play and record music with my guitar, and hang out with my guide dog, Hunter. He’s a good listener!”
Learning Initiatives in Schools
Donna is now introducing her book to librarians and educators in Pennsylvania schools. They are working together to develop a learning initiative so that more students can read about and discuss issues faced by people with disabilities. Professionals in education, rehabilitation, and the arts praise the book as a valuable tool for diversity, inclusivity, and anti-bullying initiatives.
You can download The Heart of Applebutter Hill from the Bookshare Library in BRF (Braille Refreshable Format), DAISY Text or Audio, or MP3. You can also read it directly in an Internet browser with the Bookshare Web Reader.