________________ CM . . . . Volume XV Number 1 . . . . August 29, 2008

cover Oloyou.

Teresa Cárdenas. Illustrated by Margarita Sada.
Toronto, ON: Groundwood/House of Anansi, 2008.
32 pp., hardcover, $18.95.
ISBN 978-0-88899-795-1.

Subject Heading:
Cats-Juvenile fiction.

Preschool-grade 5 / Ages 4-10.

Review by Ruth McMahon.

*** /4

Reviewed from f&g’s.


Then God-child blew on it. The creature came to life right away and, jumping off God’s knees, began to leap around.

Despite what many people think, this first creature was not a dinosaur, nor a bird, nor a human being.

It was a soft and loving, and it never tired of playing nor of having its back rubbed.

That’s why God-child said to it,

“You shall be called Oloyou the Cat, and you shall be my first friend.”


This retelling of a Yoruba myth is full of the charm and power of creativity, the wonder of youthful discovery, and the synergy of nature. It is retold in both Spanish and English.

internal art

     After the God-child creates Oloyou, they spend many happy hours playing. One day playing “Jump into Nothing,” Oloyou loses his balance and falls down to the land of Okún Aró, the endless sea. Oloyou falls in love with Okún Aró’s daughter, Kandili, a mermaid. Okún Aró does not approve and forbids the couple to visit, but Okún Aró had not planned on the interference from Badilé Onché, the invisible messenger of love. Badilé Onché’s spell leads to Kandili and Oloyou becoming, respectively, the “Night in the Sky” and the comet that leaps through the night sky.

     The story is a pourquoi tale that is unfamiliar to Canadian audiences. My human guinea pigs loved the story and asked to have it re-read several times. But the overwhelming charm of this book is found in the illustrations. The oil on canvas renderings capture the innocence and power of the story and draw readers deeper into the magic of creation. It is beautifully designed by Michael Solomon.

     We did question the precept that God-child had not created any creatures other than the cat when Oloyou meets up with Kandili, the mermaid. Perhaps imaginary creatures are exempt from God’s creation. We loved the embodiment of Badilé Onché as a hummingbird as it is often considered the bringer of love in mythology, but once again we wondered at the inconsistency.

     This story will be enjoyed by children ages 4 to 10, but particularly by the child who always wants to know why. A great addition to night sky units.


Ruth McMahon is a professional children’s librarian, storyteller, co-chair of the Rocky Mountain Children’s Choice Book Award, and the mother of two elementary school aged children in Lethbridge, AB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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