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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...
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...
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Description-

  • 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.

Reviews-

  • DOGO Books nuttcracker - it is about 50 cent no explanation as to why.
  • Publisher's Weekly

    October 3, 2011
    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.

  • Kirkus

    October 15, 2011
    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)

    (COPYRIGHT (2011) KIRKUS REVIEWS/NIELSEN BUSINESS MEDIA, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)

  • School Library Journal

    November 1, 2011

    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

    Copyright 2011 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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    Penguin Young Readers Group
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