Abiyoyo Story Arts

Bring back Abiyoyo?

The giant that eats people up?

Performing Abiyoyo...

Abiyoyo After Apartheid

February 11, 1990, the South African government released Nelson Mandela from prison. After 27 years of South Africans calling on the people in power to "Free Nelson Mandela!", the government ran out of excuses. South Africans began to dismantle the Apartheid system. A free and fair multi-racial democratic election was held in April 1994 with the new ralling cry, "One man, One vote!" The new National Assembly's first act was to elect Nelson Mandela as President. They begin drafting a new constitution. Bishop Desmond Tutu led a Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Bring back Abiyoyo?

Bring back Aiyoyo? The giant that eats people up?
The idea of bringing back Abiyoyo in a sequel was conceived long before it became a picture book, when Pete's storysong performance first began to get popular. Pete's song writing partner, Lee Hays (co-author of "If I Had a Hammer" and many other songs), told him, "You can't just make Abiyoyo disappear like that. The kids love him!" Pete had been thinking about a sequel for a long while and had mentioned the idea to Michael when they were working on their first picture book.

Waving a magic wand won't make this giant disappear.
Pete thought that in his first Abiyoyo story it had been too easy to use magic to make the scary giant disappear. The story of Abiyoyo should help people think about how to respond to real giants in the real world.

What does that magic wand symbolize?
If you look really closely at Michael's illustration of the father's magic wand, you'll see symbols of several of the world's great faith traditions. "I tried to suggest here that the true magic people have," explains Michael Hays, "is the power of a common thread which runs through all the great religions of the world."

In Pete's Abiyoyo sequel, the townspeople realize they need Abiyoyo's help. In the end they can't just "disappear" their scary giant with a magic wand. They learn to live with Abiyoyo and teach their giant to brush their teeth and clean up after themselves.

Abiyoyo Returns

by Pete Seeger and Paul Dubois Jacobs
illustrated by Michael Hays
Simon and Schuster 2001

Thirty years later...The little town that was once threatened by the giant Abiyoyo has grown by leaps and bounds. But now that the townspeople have chopped down all their trees, very year thay have floods and droughts. Worse yet, there’s a giant boulder blocking up the site of their new dam! Something had to be done.

Well, the young boy who helped make Abiyoyo disappear way back when now has a little girl of his own. And she knows the only way to save the town: Bring back Abiyoyo to help move the Boulder. “Bring back Abiyoyo?” the townspeople cry. “The giant that eats people up?” But the little girl has a plan for that to...

New editions of Abiyoyo
In 1992 Macmillan's picture book imprint joined Simon and Schuster. In 2001, along with publishing Abiyoyo Returns, S&S commisioned new cover art for Aboyoyo and included a Pete Seeger audio CD with this new hardcover edition. Simon and Schuster's mass market imprint, Aladdin, published a softcover edition of Abiyoyo and later a Books On The Go mini-edition.

PBS TV program Between the Lions featured Pete and Michael’s Abiyoyo in the middle of Season 6 Episode 6.

Years later Teaching Strategies published a Spanish language edition for the school market, sold as part of a larger bundle of classroom books.

Maybe Abiyoyo never left.
It's hard to believe that when the father's magic wand makes Abiyoyo disappear, that the giant just stops existing. Interestingly, before Abiyoyo reappears in Pete's sequel, an all consuming "We're hungry for more!" fever has taken over the little town. The people built so many new houses that they needed to strip the earth bare. Maybe when Abiyoyo disappeared he actually found a hiding place deep inside each person in town.

We really can't live without this giant.
Abiyoyo is a giant whose strength and power we really can't live without. In Abiyoyo Returns the people bring him back because they want Abiyoyo's help to build a dam. In real life Abiyoyo helps us make all the cars and planes and toys we can dream up. We need Abiyoyo. We must learn to live with Abiyoyo, but we need to be careful. If we begin to love Abiyoyo, the giant, without thinking, might eat us up!

Abiyoyo planting trees

What happens next?
"...And the last time anyone saw, Abiyoyo was happily planting new trees." Abiyoyo Returns ends with the giant helping the little girl with the giant task of reforesting the barren valley. Imagine a new picture book which picks up where the first sequal ends.

Abiyoyo seems a little more friendly, even if he might still be dangerous. Now the townspeople are familar with the giant. The kids will put Abiyoyo to work on jobs that require industrial strength. Sure, the giant will have trouble staying on task and out of trouble. When Abiyoyo's hunger pangs hit, the kids better be ready to serve him up a good meal. Dream up a new adventure for Abiyoyo and the kids.

Ubuntu Logo

Ubuntu Pathways
After the end of South African Apartheid and organization Art Against Apartheid disbanded, Pete found a new beneficiary whose work directly benefits the Xhosa people. Since 2002 all of Pete's Abiyoyo publishing income goes to Ubuntu Pathways. Ubuntu Pathways (formerly Ubuntu Education Fund) is a nonprofit organization that provides an integrated support system of health, education, and social support in the townships of Gqeberha, South Africa, previously known as Port Elizabeth.

Performing Abiyoyo...

Abiyoyo Story Arts