Book Review: Misty of Chincoteague

Rating: ★★★★★

Paul and Maureen, two siblings living on Chincoteague Island, are rambling together one day when they spot a wild mare.  Transfixed by her beauty, they set about earning money to buy her after the wild pony roundup & auction for which the island is known.

The story of this venture is full of action and suspense (will they succeed or not?) in the context of a secure family home.  The two children live with loving grandparents — no mention is made of their parents, and the children express no anguish over their absence. The brother and sister are polite to grownups and genuinely loving toward one another.

One appealing aspect of the story is the differentiated gender roles the kids take on as they mature: while working as equal partners toward their shared goal, they divide responsibilities according to their natural abilities.  Paul manfully goes off to physically labor at building a pony pen, while Maureen stays home to do his chores for him.  A few times Paul is the first to become aware of danger, and he protectively shields or warns his sister.  It is he who goes away to Assateague Island with the men to capture the mare (a coming-of-age moment), while Maureen awaits the outcome at home.

But Maureen’s stay-at-home choices are clearly an expression of self-sacrificing love toward her brother, rather than resignation to a disappointing fate.  When the two debate over who will ride in a horse race, Paul draws the longer straw, and Maureen graciously accepts this outcome, showing real selflessness and grace.  It takes strength of character to prefer another’s interests above your own (Philippians 2:3-4), and Maureen is a quiet example of this kind of practical love.  And when in the end the pony is brought home, the two of them share equally in her care and ownership.

This story provides a view of a close friendship between siblings, an interesting and challenging goal for both protagonists, healthy family relationships, and respect for authority.  It is romantic, refreshing, and inspiring, full of beauty and life.

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Publication Information: Henry, Marguerite. Misty of Chincoteague. Rand McNally. 1947. ISBN: 1416927832.
Categories: 5 Stars, Age 08-12, Book Tree, Books Children Love, Honey For a Child's Heart, NEH Summertime Favorites, Newbery Honor
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Posted on May 6, 2010


1 Response to Book Review: Misty of Chincoteague

  • Patty Fortna says:

    In your review, it is stated erroneously that Paul and Maureen’s parents are not mentioned. The parents are on a missionary trip. The reader can infer that this maybe a Christian missionary trip. This info is state in the beginning of the book, and your review is misleading.

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