By GLENN TOLLE
Music has a way of bringing people together; the power to enchant swaths of individuals with different ideologies and wrap them in the blanket of a common cause. Music also has the power to unite, and ultimately defeat the all too real monsters that haunt our species. Pete Seeger, arguably the Elvis of American folk music, knew all this and more. He worked his entire life playing and creating music that would drown out the guns of war, the doctrines of hate, and the development of irreplaceable habitats and natural sanctuaries. Seeger was a scholar, a social scientist as well as a naturalist, who shared his thoughts on the human condition and the condition of the Earth mostly through music but also through the printed word.
In this edition of FRIGHTS FOR TYKES I will be recommending ABIYOYO with text by Pete Seeger illustrated by Michael Hays and published SCHOLASTIC in 1989.
You’ll notice that I did not say “written by Pete Seeger” ; that is because Seeger did not write this story, he only elaborated on it. The bones were laid out in the form of a South African folktale. In Pete’s version, a little boy and his father are “ostracized” by the people of their village after the music that the little boy plays on his ukulele becomes annoying to the villagers. In the case of the father it’s his mischievous use of magic; both are seen as a nuisance and are made to live on the outskirts of the village. However, it is these two “nuisances” who save the village when ABIYOYO, a legendary monster, pays them a visit.
I bought my edition of ABIYOYO for $1.50 at a used book sale and you can get yours on AMAZON for $4.98, plus free shipping, used, in “Good” condition.
The core of Seeger’s message is acceptance and appreciation for everyone and everything. Nowhere is this more apparent than in ABIYOYO, a story about two outcasts who use the talents that caused them to be ostracized in order to save the very people who ostracized them. If acceptance and appreciation are at the core of your message for your kids, then I recommend you read or sing them ABIYOYO.