Misty of Chincoteague Essay - Critical Context

Marguerite Henry

Critical Context

Marguerite Henry’s books are clearly classics that will hold a permanent place of honor in juvenile literature. They are timeless because of their universally important themes regarding relationships between animals and humans and because they appeal so immediately to audiences of all ages. Misty of Chincoteague was awarded the Newbery Medal and secured Henry’s status as a world-famous author. Motion picture versions of the novel and of several of Henry’s other animal stories, such as Brighty of the Grand Canyon (1953) and Justin Morgan Had a Horse (1945), have been enthusiastically received. Several sequels to Misty of Chincoteague have also enjoyed popularity, such as Sea Star, Orphan of Chincoteague (1949) and Stormy, Misty’s Foal (1963).

Henry’s style is careful, concise, and purposeful. Her dialogue supports her developments of plot and character, and she delights in the use of appropriate regional vernacular. Her works emerge from meticulous research and extensive travels, and her settings encompass many diverse areas of the United States and Europe. Henry has created charming characters from various horses, dogs, cats, birds, foxes, and mules. Her animal and human characterizations are convincing, the interactions between them utterly believable. Her imaginative works promote wholesome values and positive, optimistic outcomes. Henry’s gifts as a storyteller are supreme; her works win and retain the attention of their young readers.

Misty of Chincoteague resulted in the development of a burgeoning tourist industry to Chincoteague Island and its July Pony Penning events, as well as to Assateague Island, which was named a national wildlife refuge. The Chincoteague Pony Association and other organizations have sprung from the ever-escalating public interest that Marguerite Henry’s series has done so much to generate.