Boyogi: How a Wounded Family Learned to Heal

by David Barclay Moore (Author) Noa Denmon (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

When his daddy comes home from the service struggling with PTSD, a young boy discovers that learning yoga together can be a source of healing.

Ever since Daddy returned from overseas, he's been different. At first, Butta Bean thinks it's his fault--that maybe his daddy doesn't love him anymore. But Mama explains that Daddy's mind is hurt from things that happened while he was away.

When Mama takes them all to yoga class at their local YMCA, Daddy doesn't want to go at first, and Butta Bean thinks it looks weird. But as Daddy and Butta Bean get better at the yoga poses (Daddy says he's a real boyogi), Butta Bean starts to see a change in Daddy. He seems more and more like his old self.

In a picture book gently tuned to a child's understanding, award-winning author David Barclay Moore and Caldecott Honor recipient Noa Denmon celebrate the transformative power of yoga, therapy, and abiding love for your family.

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Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review
Necessary and memorable.


Starred Review
A sensitive, accessible approach to trauma and the mind-body relationship.

Publishers Weekly

Young protagonist Butta Bean knows his father has been behaving differently since returning from deployment, but the child doesn't have context for what reads as PTSD: "I thought he acted sad because of something I did. I thought my daddy didn't love me anymore." Explaining that "Daddy got sick overseas," Butta Bean's mother notes that "When Daddy was away, some bad things happened there.... We are lucky nothing happened to Daddy's body. But those bad things harmed his mind." After Mama takes Daddy and Butta Bean along to a yoga class at the local Y, the father-son duo doesn't miss a day. Not only do their bodies and minds adjust, so too does the bond between father and son. Denmon's digital illustrations juxtapose somber blues for difficult moments and golden tones for both the Black family's warm memories and Daddy's arc toward feeling "way better." In conversational text that spotlights one family's experience, Moore addresses an important but conceptual topic in a developmentally appropriate way. Ages 6-9. (Oct.)

Copyright 2023 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

K-Gr 4--This picture book addresses the difficult topic of how veterans can reconnect with their families after their service. The story begins quietly, with a Black boy's father returning from war, and the boy's accurate observation, "But he came home different than before he left." With straightforward text and restricted color palette illustrations that convey the emotions experienced by the family (blue and purple tones for sadness and anxiety; yellow and brown infused tones for happiness), Moore shows how children experience the change in their parents and often attribute the changes to their actions. It is the boy's mother who helps her son understand that his dad became "sick" overseas because "bad things" harmed his mind. After she tells him that "Our minds are very precious, and we need to take care of them," she decides upon a course of action--taking her husband and son with her to a yoga class. Soon, the father and son are attending yoga classes weekly, learning new poses, calming their minds, and becoming yogi (those who do yoga). The day when his father playfully calls him a "boyogi" marks a milestone. The boy knows the father he loves is returning, and the father can share openly how yoga, his therapist, and his loving family have helped him rediscover joy. VERDICT The message of self-care and supportive family relationships amid a serious family crisis will provide hope for other families with a beloved member altered by war.--Sally A. James

Copyright 2023 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Moore and Denmon shine a powerful spotlight on a difficult topic, treading carefully and offering understanding and hope for families of veterans and other traumatized adults. Depicting self-care, wellness, and healthy, supportive relationships in the context of a loving Black family facing a serious challenge, this story makes a transformative contribution to the world of picture books. Denmon's muted palette, with contrasting yellow and blue tones, effectively denotes happy and gloomy emotions and times, strengthening readers' comprehension of the characters' evolution. . . . Necessary and memorable.
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review) 

David Barclay Moore
DAVID BARCLAY MOORE is the author of The Stars Beneath Our Feet, which won the Coretta Scott King-John Steptoe Award for New Talent.

David was born and raised in Missouri. After studying creative writing at Iowa State University, film at Howard University in Washington, D.C., and language studies at l'Université de Montpellier in France, David moved to New York City, where he has worked in film, journalism, and communications.

David now divides his time between Brooklyn, NY; Los Angeles, CA; and St. Louis, MO.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Candlewick Press (MA)
Publication date
October 10, 2023
BISAC categories
JUV013060 - Juvenile Fiction | Family | Parents
JUV039240 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | Depression & Mental Illness
JUV075000 - Juvenile Fiction | War & Military
Library of Congress categories
Picture books
Father and child
Post-traumatic stress disorder

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