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Playground (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition)

Playground (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition)

by 50 Cent

A hard-hitting and inspirational novel about the redemption of a bully from international icon 50 Cent

Thirteen-year-old Butterball takes readers on a journey through the moments that made him into the playground bully he is today. Loosely inspired by 50 Cent's own adolescence and written with his teenage son in mind, Playground received wide critical


A hard-hitting and inspirational novel about the redemption of a bully from international icon 50 Cent

Thirteen-year-old Butterball takes readers on a journey through the moments that made him into the playground bully he is today. Loosely inspired by 50 Cent's own adolescence and written with his teenage son in mind, Playground received wide critical praise—and is now poised to become a perennial classic.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publishers Weekly
Rapper turned actor and author 50 Cent makes his YA debut with a candid tale about a middle-schooler dealing with pressures from his peers and his broken family. Overweight and nearly friendless, “Butterball” has just been suspended from school for assaulting a classmate with a sock filled with batteries. As he returns to school, visits his father in New York City, and talks to his therapist, Liz, his frustrations come to light. His always-working mother has too little time for him, while his father spends most of their occasional weekends together encouraging his violence (even forcing him to shoplift) and making fun of his weight. Although Butterball benefits from some positive influences, including Liz and his friend Nia, it’s his desire to better himself (and his interest in filmmaking) that help him overcome his circumstances and his reputation. 50 Cent’s story follows a predictable arc, but he throws in some twists and doesn’t hold back when portraying violence or Butterball’s difficult home life. Butterball’s unrepentant, unpretentious, and authentic narrative voice, meanwhile, is more than enough to carry the story. Ages 12�up. (Nov.)
VOYA - Nicola McDonald
Butterball has been having a hard time ever since his parents broke up, and his mom dragged him off to Long Island. His mom said she did it so they could have a better life, but Butterball's life has never been worse. When an invitation extended to his best friend to visit his home does not go as planned, Butterball decides to teach him a lesson by hitting him in the face with a sock full of batteries. That move brings him popularity, but only time will tell if things will get better for him. Playground is an eye-opening and compassionate story on the timely topic of bullying. Told from Butterball's point of view, this story effectively suggests various underlying issues that can lead to bullying and how anger, if not treated, can lead to greater problems. Throughout the story, readers see Butterball go from being a disrespectful and angry bully to gaining understanding of his situation and beginning to take responsibility for his actions. Readers who were ever confused about having a gay parent, or being overweight, or going through a parental breakup, or just wanting to fit in and be accepted by their peers, will relate to Butterball. 50 Cents's debut young adult novel is a quick read that will be great for discussions on a variety of important and timely topics. Reviewer: Nicola McDonald
Children's Literature - Suzanna E. Henshon
Curtis Jackson III (50 Cent), an international hip-hop star, has tackled the novel with the rhyme and rhythm of a seasoned storyteller. In his introduction, Jackson admits he is not a role model and that his intention is to write a story about a kid who is a bully—and how this boy is able to move past bullying to something bigger and better. Butterball, an overweight high school student, is lonely because his divorced parents work full-time. The boy also has to deal with his mother's recent "coming out" and her new girlfriend, Evelyn. Just when his life hits rock bottom, Butterball attacks a boy, Maurice, on the playground with a sock filled with batteries. Butterball wants to spend time with his father, who lives in New York City. And he does not want to go to therapy sessions with Liz, who asks difficult questions. Butterball's life is in a downward spiral when he falls for a beautiful girl, Nia. But after Butterball wrecks Nia's party, she wants nothing to do with him. And the boy is further devastated to find out his father has no interest in him. Young readers will find this story to be suspenseful and interesting. Will Butterball lose weight and regain his dignity? Will he find his place in the high school social scene? Can the boy ever develop into the creative artist that he was meant to be? Readers will find Butterball to be a real and sympathetic character, despite his bullying tendencies. Reviewer: Suzanna E. Henshon, Ph.D.
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—After clobbering his former best friend with a sock full of batteries, "Butterball" thinks he'll finally get the respect he deserves from his middle-school classmates. But this is just a front for the overweight eighth grader who in therapy sessions slowly reveals his true struggles as a child of divorce recently transplanted from the city to the suburbs, trying to fit in at school and make sense of his overworked mother's new relationship. He eats lunch alone in a bathroom stall at school and has little support from mom, her ever-present female "friend," and a verbally abusive father, who wrongfully teaches him that violence will gain respect. This first YA novel from rapper 50 Cent clearly portrays the life of a maligned middle-schooler vulnerable to the negative messages he receives from peers and his father that inevitably lead to some bad choices. The occasionally raw language is perfectly in keeping with the character. The narrative follows a predictable plot, but offers an observant and aware character often brimming with deep insight, who luckily has an outlet in amateur filmmaking and movies.—Shawna Sherman, Hayward Public Library, CA
Kirkus Reviews - Kirkus Reviews
A white social worker helps troubled 13-year-old Butterball understand and change his actions in this tale of an outcast-turned-bully's redemption. When the story opens, Butterball is speaking with Liz for the first time after attacking a boy for reasons he does not immediately reveal either to readers or to "this uptight white woman." As the story unfolds, readers begin to see, if not why Butterball filled a sock with batteries and smashed it against his former friend's face, the social rewards he reaps for having done so. Popular students high-five him in the hallways, and his dad, whom Butterball visits in the city two weekends a month, tells him, "I was kind of proud of you...maybe you're not such a worthless fatass after all." Thoughtful readers, however, will recognize his father's derision and neglect as well as the shallowness of the popular boys' interest in their newly proven tough guy. Themes of masculinity and homophobia are handled subtly and open-endedly here. Butterball is an appealing narrator, mustering as much toughness, humor and, eventually, vulnerability for readers as he does for his fellow students, his mother and Liz. An instructive and inviting look into the psychology of a young bully. (Fiction. 10-13)

Product Details

Turtleback Books
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
12 - 15 Years

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Curtis Jackson III (aka 50 Cent) is an internationally successful hip-hop star, actor, writer, and entrepreneur. He rose to fame with the release of his albums Get Rich or Die Tryin' and The Massacre. He is the author of the bestselling books From Pieces to Weight and The 50th Law.

Lizzi Akana is an award-winning animator and designer. She graduated with honors from the Rhode Island School of Design and has since gone on to create artwork and animated content for television, film, advertising, and print. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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