“Misty of Chincoteague”. “Stormy, Misty’s Foal”. “King of the Wind: the Story of the Godolphin Arabian”. “Brighty of the Grand Canyon”. “White Stallion of Lipizza”. Marguerite Henry’s books captivated me in grade school (as did Wesley Dennis’ gorgeous illustrations). I don’t remember which teacher first read to my class the story of Misty, a wild pony living on Assateague Island off the coast of Virginia, and how she came to Paul and his sister Maureen from the annual Pony Round Up and Swim to Chincoteague Island, where they lived. But the Newberry Award winning book awoke in me a love for horses and validated my love of reading.
In “King of the Wind”, I first learned of the great bond between the “Arabs” and their horses, lovingly brought to life by a determined mute boy and the beautiful horse he loved. Brighty was a plucky burro who lived in the Grand Canyon. “White Stallion” is where I first became acquainted with the royal Lipizzan stallions and their place in history. And the best thing of all – especially to a young girl in rural Iowa -was that all these books were based on REAL critters! Forget the Monkees, forget Simon and Garfunkel , forget Herman’s Hermits – I was star struck by ponies and horses and plucky little burros. So to whichever of my early teachers who first read “Misty” to me – thank you! I may not remember your name, but you certainly left a lasting impact!