Author: Pete Seeger
Artist: Michael Hays
Genre: Folksong / Africa / Monsters
Year Published: 1986
Year Read: 2010
Series: Abiyoyo #1
Publisher: Aladdin Paperbacks
Content Rating: Ages 5+ (Some Scary Scenes)
I actually first heard about this book when I watched an episode on “Reading Rainbow” that discussed the power of music. “Abiyoyo” is a South African lullaby and folk story by songwriter Pete Seeger along with illustrations by Michael Hays and it is about how a young boy and his father try to outsmart the monster Abiyoyo when the monster tries to threaten their village. “Abiyoyo” is a brilliant folktale that many children who love folk songs will definitely enjoy for many years!
Pete Seeger, master songwriter, has written a brilliant and creative adaptation of this classic South African folktale as he writes the story in a dramatic yet hilarious way as he makes Abiyoyo both menacing and hilarious at the same time as Abiyoyo is one of the few villains that I have seen where he easily dances to a song dedicated to him which makes him more like a great buffoon than an actual villain. Michael Hays’ illustrations are beautiful and extremely creative and beautiful at the same time, especially of the image of Abiyoyo himself as he looks like a bluish-white glass figurine with green looking overalls and a goofy grin on his face. The images that truly stood out the most in this book were the images of the villagers themselves as they range from all different cultures from around the world such as India, China, Africa and many more and the outfits that the villagers wear to represent their countries make the illustrations look extremely colorful.
Parents should know that Abiyoyo might scare smaller children since he eats people and even threatens the village. Parents should reassure their children that Abiyoyo is just a myth that many people told and that he does not really exist.
“Abiyoyo” is a brilliant adaptation of the classic folktale that many children who love reading books about monsters and love singing to folk songs will easily enjoy for many years. I would recommend this book to children ages five and up since smaller children might be frightened by the image of Abiyoyo.