It’s almost Halloween, and you want books to share with your kids that will give them shivers, but not nightmares. Check out these picture books from the Orion Township Public Library about a scary giant and the clever little boy who defeats him.
Inspired by a South African folktale, Abiyoyo is a storysong written by the folk music master Pete Seeger and illustrated by Michael Hays. A little boy is always in trouble for making noise with his music. His father is shunned by the neighbors for playing too many pranks, making things disappear with his magic wand. But when fearful Abiyoyo comes, the little boy sings until the giant falls down from dancing, and the father uses his magic wand to make Abiyoyo disappear.
Compare this classic to its sequel, Abiyoyo Returns written by Pete Seeger and Paul DuBois Jacobs, and illustrated by Michael Hays. The little boy who made Abiyoyo disappear is now a grown man, and his town needs a giant’s help. With the help of the magic wand, Abiyoyo returns and the townspeople teach him to help rather than to harm.
There’s a terrific “Reading Rainbow” video of Pete Seeger telling/singing the first book (available for free on Youtube) and an audio cd available as well. Watch the video clip, and share the audio recording of Abiyoyo along with the book so your kids can listen to a master storyteller. (You’ll enjoy listening to him as much as your kids do, and it’s amazing how listening to a different voice than the one they hear all the time can perk up little ears.) Before reading Abiyoyo Returns, predict with your kids how the people will handle Abiyoyo when he comes back. Discuss how Abiyoyo is the problem in one story and the solution in the other. For a fun art extension, get dowels from the hardware store (you can find them for less than $1 – cut them in half and they’re even less expensive!) and decorate your own magic wands. If your kids are plagued with Halloween wiggles, let them sing the Abiyoyo song and dance around until they fall down. When you wave your wand to magically transport your kids to bed, their Halloween wiggles will have vanished!