Monday, June 29, 2009

Misty of Chincoteague

Welcome to the Chincoteague Outlook Book Blog, featuring books about Virginia’s Eastern Shore, written by local authors or about topics that are relevant to the area. We hope that you will discover some new titles that may not be familiar to you or that you’ll be reminded about old favorites that you haven’t read in a while.

It would be hard to create a blog about books related to Chincoteague without starting out with Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry. Misty was published in the 1940’s but the seeds of the story were sown decades earlier. The Chincoteague Pony Swim and auction was started in 1925 for the purpose of raising funds for the Chincoteague Fire Department. The Island was mobilized by a series of fires that destroyed the business district and caused the residents to realize that the Fire Department was under-equipped.

From 1925 through 1946, the Chincoteague Pony Swim remained primarily a Chincoteague locals only event, but all of that changed dramatically when Marguerite Henry produced her classic children’s book Misty of Chincoteague. Published in 1947, this perennial favorite of both young and old readers alike changed Chincoteague Island forever and the whole world discovered this “beautiful land across the water.”

Misty tells the story of young Paul and Maureen Beebe’s quest to bring the elusive Phantom and her foal – named Misty by Paul – from Assateague to Chincoteague during the annual pony swim. Paul and Maureen had had their eye on the Phantom for several years and were thrilled by the idea of buying both the Phantom and her new foal at the annual pony auction. After Paul rescued Phantom and her foal from a dangerous whirlpool during the pony swim, they were certain Misty would be theirs. But the auction day didn’t start out quite as the two had planned and Misty’s fate hung in the balance.

Misty was a huge success and generations of readers have traveled to Chincoteague to see the wild ponies, the annual auction and the community that was so much a part of the story. If you haven’t read Misty – or read it years ago and the details have faded - pick it up and get to know the famous foal. For more information, click here.

Jane Richstein is the co-owner of Sundial Books, 4073 Main St., Chincoteague Island , VA, 757.336.5825;