Story by: Rachel Pulver 

Marieke Davis always wanted to teach kids that they can do almost anything no matter what others may think. She wrote and illustrated the children’s book Lily the Blind Unicorn with the hope of teaching children about inclusion, disability, and acceptance. Lily the Blind Unicorn features Lily and her magical abilities to play the lute, and let’s not forget her white cane, which helps her to see the world.

Marieka sits in the Arizona State University recording lab, flashing a peace sign, as she lends her voice to Lily The Blind Unicorn for an audiobook.

Davis was the first and only blind student during her time in the MFA Visual Arts program at Columbus College Art and Design. She created and brought to life Lily the Blind Unicorn for her MFA Visual Arts thesis project to help with the lack of blind and disabled representation in the genre of children’s books.

Throughout the pages of beautiful, hand-drawn Illustrations, which were drawn by Davis, Lily brings a much-needed sparkle of light to the villagers of Stepp by sharing her talents to aid them in their troubles. Davis stated in an interview with Foundation for Blind Children, “A children’s book is a great way to teach both disabled and not disabled children about the themes in the book and that is community, and coming together to create a world that is accessible for everyone”. And that is exactly what Lily does!

In the book we learn about Lily’s friends who are blind unicorn artists, deaf unicorn singers, and hoofless unicorn dancers, but no one knows of them since the world was not built with them in mind. Davis believes that it is the responsibility of society to make accommodations that benefit society as a whole.

That is why she finds it so important for the disabled community and non-disabled community to come together to work and learn with each other. As a result, entirely new ideas, genres, mediums, and experiences will be created to benefit everyone. This philosophy is displayed by the characters in Lily the Blind Unicorn as they unite the Kingdom of Stepp and the Valley of Unicorns.

Listen to the Story

Here is an audio-descriptive version of the book.

 

Marieke Davis’s Story

Marieke Davis attended Foundation for Blind Children’s Adult Transition Program back in 2017 after she graduated from Arizona State University. She relayed that FBC gave her a lot of confidence and encouraged her to be resilient. Davis stated that “FBC gave me the confidence to pursue an MFA even though it took me three years of trying and being rejected by nine different schools. I finally got in”. In the program, Davis remembers her Activities of Daily Living classes where she learned how to adapt her blindness to many skills such as cooking. She recalls fawn memories of making a minestrone soup that even her vegan instructor liked.