R. Jenkins-Oliver and Lakeisha Oliver’s Friendship Breaks Barriers might be more fittingly titled A Feline Odyssey. The children’s picture book is about Toby, the affable but naïve marmalade tabby, who banters with a catalog of characters: a squirrel named Kelly, a “rat” with a hard shell named Andy – who’s actually an armadillo, and a Chihuahua named Buddy. Toby has his share of challenges that included surviving thunderstorms, the woods, and Fourth of July fireworks. Like all epic journeys, the setting is vast and the characters many. And just as Odysseus learns that those precious intangibles of love and loyalty are found at home, so does Toby.
While the real conflict comes a bit late (it isn’t until page 19 that we learn there is a “pet-napper” in the neighborhood), and the book could use a big shot of humor and zing, Olivers’ story is worth a read. Kids ages 4-9 will enjoy the book, especially critter enthusiasts. Toby’s big heart and ceaseless curiosity make him an endearing protagonist. A couple bonuses include kid-friendly word puzzles and a portion of royalties donated to Save-A-Life, Inc., a volunteer organization created to save adoptable animals.
Reviewed by Kimberly Dana for Readers Favorite.