Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Misty of Chincoteague

Finished Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry. It won the Newbery Honor Medal in 1948. Set on Chincoteague Island off the coast of Virginia, it is the story Paul and Maureen Beebe, brother and sister who work hard to earn enough money to buy a wild pony named The Phantom at that year's Pony Penning Day.

Many, many years before, a Spanish ship carrying ponies to South America sank off the coast. The ponies who survived swam to shore on neighboring Assateague Island. Over the years they bred and multiplied. In order to keep the population under control the locals round the ponies up once a year, sort them, and take some to auction, hence Pony Penning Day.

Paul participates in the roundup with the adult men. The Phantom has a reputation for being elusive, but Paul finds her hiding among some bushes. With her she has her new foal, who Paul names Misty. Misty is too young to be separated from her mother, so Paul and Maureen get both ponies for the price of one. While The Phantom is shy, and slow to trust humans, Misty is curious and has no fear. She gets into mischief all the time. Her antics charm her new family. In the meantime, the children train The Phantom to run in the race that will take place at next year's Pony Penning.

This is a book full of excitement and anticipation. The children set themselves the difficult tasks of earning $100 for their purchase and then training a wild pony. They engage in a lot of hard work and dedication.

The illustrations for the book were created by Wesley Dennis, who made a career of drawing horses. Aside from illustrating 15 books for Marguerite Henry, be also created artwork for Black Beauty, John Steinbeck's The Red Pony and King of the Wind, which wone the Newbery Medal in 1949. He wrote and illustrated his own books about horses as well, including Flip, published in 1941.

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