Marguerite Henry, the award-winning author who turned an account of a brother and sister's dream of owning a wild pony into the beloved children's classic "Misty of Chincoteague," died Nov. 26 at her home in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. She was 95.

Mrs. Henry had been ill for months and died of complications from a series of strokes, said Susan Foster Ambrose, a close family friend and fellow writer.

"She never lost that wonderful, exuberant, childlike quality," Ambrose said. "She would be fascinated with a sunset or a bird landing in her back yard. She was just so captivated by the small joys in life, and she was able to translate the small joys in life to her readers."

Mrs. Henry, who long ago claimed a spot among the great authors of children's books, continued writing daily until the last weeks of her life. She recently completed a manuscript based on her standard poodle Patrick Henry, who was by her side when she died.

Among her other works were "Justin Morgan Had a Horse," "Brighty of the Grand Canyon," "Black Gold" and "Born to Trot." In all, Mrs. Henry wrote 59 books, which were translated into 12 languages.

"Misty," one of Mrs. Henry's first books and the one for which she would become best known, was published in July 1947. It immortalized the annual quarter-mile swim by wild ponies between the islands of Assateague and Chincoteague off Virginia's coast. The event now draws about 25,000 tourists each year who watch volunteers dubbed "saltwater cowboys" round up the ponies and drive them across the channel so healthy foals can be auctioned.

The seed that grew into a series of four Misty books was planted by an editor who witnessed the annual Pony Penning Day on Assateague Island in 1945 and suggested that Henry might find a story there.

Mrs. Henry flew to the island the next year and set about interviewing and observing the residents. She eventually discovered the Beebe family, whose members became the central characters in "Misty."

"She talked with everyone that had a pony all over the island, and when she talked with my mother and father and niece and nephew Paul and Maureen, and heard the things that had happened to them, she knew she had it, just like that," said Jeanette Beebe, who owned Misty and who was the model for one of the main characters in "Stormy, Misty's Foal."

"Misty" told of Maureen and Paul's dream to own a wild pony in a sentimental tale that was both a critical and commercial success. It was made into a movie in 1961.

The Misty of Chincoteague Foundation recently dedicated a life-size bronze statue of Misty, who died in 1972.

Jeanette Beebe and her family had kept in touch with Mrs. Henry over the years, and Beebe expressed shock and sadness upon hearing of Mrs. Henry's death.

Beebe, now 79, said that she last spoke with Mrs. Henry about four years ago and that she warmly recalled the fateful summer she spent in Chincoteague.

"Seemed that's all she wanted to talk about," Beebe said.

Ambrose said Mrs. Henry contracted rheumatic fever at age 6 and was prevented from attending grade school until she was about 12 because she was sickly and her parents feared that she would contract other dangerous illnesses.

Cut off from children her age and formal schooling, Mrs. Henry discovered a wonderful world of her own and set about capturing it on paper.

According to one biography, Mrs. Henry sold her first story -- about a collie and a group of children playing hide-and-seek in autumn leaves at a birthday party -- to a magazine at age 11 and received $12. Throughout her career, she would write about dogs, birds, foxes and mules, but she always returned to horses.

One reviewer called "Misty of Chincoteague" "one of the finest horse stories ever written." Another said, "As far as children are concerned, Marguerite Henry is the poet laureate of horses."

Asked why she was so driven to write about horses, Mrs. Henry once explained: "It is exciting to me that no matter how much machinery replaces the horse, the work it can do is still measured in horsepower . . . even in the space age. And although a riding horse often weighs half a ton and a big drafter a full ton, either can be led about by a piece of string if he has been wisely trained. This to me is a constant source of wonder and challenge."

Her husband, Sidney Crocker Henry, died in 1987. They had no children.