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Playground by 50 Cent
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Playground (2011)

by 50 Cent

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Thirteen-year-old Butterball doesn’t have much going for him. He’s teased mercilessly about his weight. He hates the Long Island suburb his mom moved them to and wishes he still lived with his dad in the city. And now he’s stuck talking to a totally out-of-touch therapist named Liz.

Liz tries to uncover what happened that day on the playground—a day that landed one kid in the hospital and Butterball in detention. Butterball refuses to let her in on the truth, and while he evades her questions, he takes readers on a journey through the moments that made him into the playground bully he is today.

This devastating yet ultimately redemptive story is told in voice-driven prose and accented with drawings and photographs, making it a natural successor to The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.

Loosely inspired by 50 Cent’s own adolescence, and written with his fourteen-year-old son in mind, Playground is sure to captivate wide attention—and spark intense discussion
  AndrewC.BG3 | Mar 21, 2017 |
Butterball (the kids call him that because he's overweight) is a bit of a bully and loner, disliked and bullied by the other kids. After severely beating the one friend he had, Butterball has to meet with counselor Liz twice a week although he doesn't see the point of taking this "skinny white woman" seriously or why she would be interested in anything he has to say. Over time he comes to see that he has control over his decision-making and their consequences, and at book's end there's hope he may be able to parlay his interest in movie-making into something positive. The beating scene is a tad graphic and Butterball uses every variation of s***, plus ass and bitch a couple of times, which gives Butterball's story a credible edge. Beyond that though, the book is mostly introspective and suitable for middle schoolers. Reluctant readers may be drawn to it because of the author's celebrity. ( )
  Salsabrarian | Feb 2, 2016 |
Playground is Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson’s debut young adult novel about teen bullying. He explores this topical issue by sharing some of his own experiences in this fictionalized story. He hopes to reach out to kids to show how bullies are created and that there is hope to overcome it. As a parent, I’m very interested in this topic and was curious to read a story written from the bully’s perspective as a fresh change of pace.

The story is narrated by thirteen-year-old Butterball, nicknamed because of his weight, who lives with his over-worked mother post-split in a Long Island suburb. His father remains in the city where he seems to have more time for his girlfriends than for him. Butterball gets in trouble at school for hitting a kid, his only friend, with D batteries wrapped inside a sock. After that incident, he must attend weekly sessions with a psychologist to get to the bottom of his behavioral issues. The details of what set Butterball off are revealed through the weekly sessions with Liz.

Butterball is a sympathetic character that I think many teens will relate to. After his parent’s split he has to start again in a new neighborhood and school where he is the outsider. The only time he does get respect and positive attention from his peers is when he attacks a fellow student. Even his father seems to like the new bullying ways of his son. The dialogue is realistic and edgy with an uncondescending tone that gets the message across. The language is explicit at times but appropriate to the story and since it is not toned down it is more relatable to the intended audience.

There are many issues presented in the book that go hand in hand with the bullying behavior such as divorce, consumerism, diet and more. I thought these issues were handled with sensitivity and not in a preachy way. It’s interesting to see the circumstances that lead to Butterball’s acting out and it made me more sympathetic to those who exhibit the same behavior. The therapy session storytelling device works well and gives a healing quality to the story.

Dwayne Clark effectively handles the narration and kept the audiobook entertaining throughout. The reading is very lively and the character voices are distinct and believable. At only four hours long, the audiobook is the perfect length for the story and the time flies by.

With bullying now such an epidemic, I appreciate what 50 Cent set out to do with this story. With understanding and respect for the target audience, the thoughtful story has a hopeful tone that may inspire others like Butterball. Recommended for middle schooler’s, parents and educators looking for insight into the mind of a bully. ( )
  readingdate | Jan 7, 2014 |
This book was pretty good overall. Wasn't a difficult read at all and basically described Curtis Jackson's life as a kid when he was growing up. I found it interesting because it described how he grew up and how he dealt with people making fun of him for having two moms. He described what it was like constantly changing schools and how he dealt with kids making fun of him. I would recommend this book to anyone because its a book for everyone and its an easy read. ( )
  br13vila | Jun 15, 2013 |
Fast-paced, realistic story about a bully seeking to reform himself. Fans of Alan Sitomer's High Hop High books will probably like this. ( )
  Sullywriter | Apr 3, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 159514434X, Hardcover)

Thirteen-year-old Butterball doesn't have much going for him. He's teased mercilessly about his weight. He hates the Long Island suburb his mom moved them to and wishes he still lived with his dad in the city. And now he's stuck talking to a totally out-of-touch therapist named Liz.

Liz tries to uncover what happened that day on the playground - a day that landed one kid in the hospital and Butterball in detention. Butterball refuses to let her in on the truth, and while he evades her questions, he takes readers on a journey through the moments that made him into the playground bully he is today.

This devastating yet ultimately redemptive story is told in voice-driven prose and accented with drawings and photographs, making it a natural successor to The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.

Loosely inspired by 50 Cent's own adolescence, and written with his fourteen-year-old son in mind, Playground is sure to captivate wide attention - and spark intense discussion.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:05:56 -0400)

After beating up Maurice on the playground, Butterball is forced to see the school therapist.

» see all 3 descriptions

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