Marguerite Henry Western Heritage Award | Bronze Statue | Mustang Wild Spirit of the West

Life Advice from Marguerite Henry

Marguerite Henry, the popular children's author best known for horse books, won multiple awards during her 55+ year career. While researching Marguerite Henry for my book Marguerite, Misty and Me, I happened upon an extremely impressive award at the University of Minnesota.

Western Heritage Award of cowboy on horse for Marguerite Henry Mustang horse book


The Kerlan Collection of Children's Literature at U of MN has the Marguerite Henry Collection which has manuscripts and research notes for most of her books. I got to read parts of a handwritten draft of Misty of Chincoteague and Stormy, Misty's Foal. There were even some unpublished manuscripts--one about miniature horses--which you can read more about in Marguerite Misty and Me.

It was a thrill to hold Marguerite Henry's Newbery Medal for King of the Wind, and when I stumbled upon this award for Mustang: Wild Spirit of the West, I smiled. Look at the note Marguerite taped onto the back of her Western Heritage Award. It reads,

"Getting an idea should be like sitting on a tack. It should make you get up to do something about it."

I took that sage advice Marguerite penned decades earlier to heart when my friend Carolyn told me around 2006 that I needed to write a book about my terrible, horrible dating experiences. That resulted in my debut title Horses Adored and Men Endured. After that I wrote Strands of Hope: How to Grieve the Loss of a Horse based on a blog post I have that keeps getting lots of traffic. Strands led to Unbridled Creativity a writing prompt book which makes for an excellent gift for horse lovers. 

So it seemed fitting to read Marguerite's own words as I had become obsessed with uncovering facts that could lead me to piece together a Marguerite Henry biography. I actually began this process in 2019, but a major life event I wasn't planning on caused me to put my Marguerite Henry book on hold. I was not able to begin researching the life of Marguerite Henry until 2021. The idea, like a tack, caused me to get up and do something about it. I traveled from Rancho Santa Fe, California, to Chincoteague, following in the footsteps of Misty and Marguerite. I met horse people from all walks of life, including some folks who were little kids when Misty lived at Mole Meadow in Wayne, Illinois! One man I've gotten to know was even paid to exercise Misty.

Over the last two years, I've met hardcore Chincoteague pony lovers and the woman who has the largest herd of Chincoteague ponies (aside from the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company who owns the herd on the Virginia side of Assateague Island). What a ride it has been!

So the question for you is, what ideas do you have that you need to do something about? What should you act on today to be following the life advice of Marguerite Henry?

Credit to Marguerite Henry Collection of the University of Minnesota Libraries, Kerlan Collection of Children's Literature for letting me share the photos.

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