If you can’t make it to Virginia today for the annual swimming of the ponies, take a look at this faithful adaptation of the classic (and fact-based) children’s book Misty of Chincoteague, by Marguerite Henry. It is the story of two children who fall in love with a wild horse, descended from the Spanish ponies who escaped from a sinking ship and swam to Asateague, an island off the coast of Virginia. The children are Paul and Maureen, who live with their grandparents on Chincoteague, a neighboring island. Once a year, the residents of Chincoteague go to Asateague to capture ponies.
There is a very nice presentation of the challenge of teaching the foal independence, how hard it is for her, but how much love it shows. Paul learns this when he has to let the Phantom, Misty’s mother, go back to Asateague. He tells Misty to go, too, but Misty stays and runs after the children. Her home is with them, now. This movie provides a good opportunity to talk about showing love by letting go. The brother and sister have a very good, supportive relationship. And their grandfather (Arthur O’Connell) is strict and proud but understanding, as shown by his reaction when Paul goes off to Asateague alone.
Questions for Kids:
Why is it important for Misty to learn to be independent? What is a good way to teach her?
Does she know that her mother loves her even though she is trying to teach her to do things for herself?
Why does Misty want to stay with the children? Why doesn’t the Phantom want to stay?
How does Paul know?
Connections: David Ladd is the son of 40s star Alan Ladd (“Shane”).
Activities: Children will enjoy Misty of Chincoteague and its sequels. See if they can find the island of Chincoteague on a map, and look for information about the annual auction. Take the kids to a pony ride, or to a place where they can feed and pet some horses.