Abiyoyo Story Arts

Abiyoyo is a book you can sing.

–Levar Burton,
Reading Rainbow

Abiyoyo in class...

Macmillan publishes Pete's storysong picture book.

In 1986 Macmillan publishers released the first hardcover edition of Abiyoyo. Michael's very first picture book!

Here's the jacket flap text:
Once there was a little boy who played the ukelele. Wherever he’d go he’d play, Clink, clonk, clunk. His father was a magician. Wherever he’d go, he’d make things disappear, Zoop! Zoop! Soon the townspeople grew tired of the boy’s noise and the father’s tricks, and banished both of them to the edge of town. There they lived, until one day the terrible giant Abiyoyo appeared. He was as tall as a tree, and it was said that he could eat people up. Everyone was terrified, except the boy and his father, and they came up with a plan to save the town...

Reading Rainbow features Abiyoyo.
The PBS television series Reading Rainbow reviewed Michael's detailed pencil drawings and expressed an interest in featuring Pete's book even before Michael had finished his final color art.

Pete recorded a new narration of his story for Reading Rainbow and appeared live a set with host LeVar Burton.

Scholastic publishers produced a school edition of Abiyoyo. In order to help make the book affordable for everyone, Pete helped negotiate an arrangement between Macmillan and Scholastic which allowed Scholastic to market the book at a deep discount in schools. Scholastic would eventually sell a million+ copies of Abiyoyo.

Scholastic published an oversided "Big Book" edition for teachers to use for large reading groups in their classrooms.

Scholastic produced an audio cassette recording of Pete's story narrated by James Earl Jones and sold in a special package with the Abiyoyo book.

A Swedish edition and a Japanese edition of the Abiyoyo picture book were also published.

Art Against Apartheid

Art Against Apartheid
In the years Pete and Michael worked on their Abiyoyo picturebook, a global movement gained support to boycott the South African racist regime and end Apartheid. To lend his support to this global movement, Pete donated his Abiyoyo publishing income to an organization called Art Against Apartheid.

Art Against Apartheid was an independent, multiracial and politically diverse coalition of artists working in the United States, who spoke out through their art against institutionalized racial discrimination of South African Apartheid.

Scatterlings of Africa
The song Scatterlings of Africa introduced Michael to white South African performer Johnny Clegg. As a child Johnny Clegg crossed the color line in South Africa, learned Zulu dance and traditional Zulu songs, formed prolific interracial folk and rock ensembles Juluka and Savuka, and became deeply involved in the struggle against Apartheid. Originally performed with his folk band Juluka, the rock version with Savuka released the year after Abiyoyo was pulished became an international hit. As Michael began appearing in schools to share his work as a picture book illustrator, Johnny Clegg's music inspired his efforts. Check out this Savuka music video:
Scatterlings of Africa by Johnny Clegg And Savuka .

Abiyoyo in class...

Abiyoyo Story Arts