Friday, January 23, 2015

A Book From My Childhood: "Misty of Chincoteague" by Marguerite Henry

I remember roaming the stacks of the children's area of "my" public library during our first few visits there. We moved to town just a few months before my 10th birthday, and I loved the library right away. The ensuing years would find me reading, studying, and growing friendships within those walls. When I went looking for a job to pay for college, the public library was the only place I applied. Three wonderful years were spent shelving, answering phones, filing, replying to genealogy queries from all over the country, and helping our patrons research local and family history.

But, at age 10, I didn't know all that. I just knew that as much as I loved the talking animal stories of Thornton W. Burgess, I had long outgrown them. I needed a new author to enjoy. Marguerite Henry was that author, and Misty of Chincotegue -- published in 1947 -- was the first of her many books I enjoyed.

I decided to visit "Misty" again this year, and it felt like I was becoming reacquainted with an old friend. A brother and sister share the lofty goal of capturing and purchasing an illusive wild pony during Chincoteague's Pony Penning Day. The two are self-motivated to work -- and work hard -- in a way most children don't understand. They make a good team as they face unforeseen obstacles, handle disappointment, celebrate successes, and ultimately decide to make a personal sacrifice to do what is best for the animals they love so dearly.

Part of me felt the book was incorrectly named. It should be The Phantom of Assateague instead of its actual title, Misty of Chincoteague. Perhaps this marks my own shift in perspective as I identify with the mother instead of the foal. Who knows?

Oddly enough, I pulled this book from my shelves at home, but it could be the same copy I read as a child. It is a library discard bought during a $2.00 a bag sale several years ago!

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