by Marguerite Henry
On an island off the coasts of Virginia and Maryland lives a centuries-old band of wild ponies. Among them is the most mysterious of all, Phantom, a rarely seen mare that eludes all efforts to capture her--that is, until a young boy and girl lay eyes on her and determine that they can't live without her. The frenzied roundup that follows on the next "Pony Penning Day" does indeed bring Phantom into their lives, in a way they never would have suspected. Phantom would forever be a creature of the wild. But her gentle, loyal colt Misty is another story altogether.A long time ago, when my sister and I were but annoying tweens, my parents went to Norway for three weeks. Yes, that's right. Norway. Because this was like 1993 and April, clearly they weren't taking us along for the magical adventure. So they tossed our grandparents at us and inadvertently created a lot of cross-generational havoc while they were skipping hand in hand through eight feet of snow...or whatever. This havoc presented itself in a litter of kittens. My sister and I naturally wanted a kitten (or all of them) and knew there was no way in hell our parents were going to allow this, but maybe our grandparents could be persuaded...
Only all of our deviousness failed, because grandparents are never as easily led by children as they seem in fiction. Our children's book learning failed us. I would have to wait until I was in college to get a kitten, who is now my own personal hell beast/serial killer.
Anyway, I relate this story because I feel like Misty of Chincoteague bears a striking similarity to my life in April of 1993. Paul and Maureen have been thrown at the Beebes because their parents are gallivanting around in China (for what seems like five and a half years), only their parents have made a crucial error. The Beebes own horses. Not only do they own horses, they live on Chicoteague island, an island packed with ponies. An island packed with ponies that holds annual pony festivals where they basically give these ponies away to any kid who mows enough lawns during the summer.
There is no way those parents are getting their kids back.