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Playground
by 50 Cent
PUBL. RECOMMENDED AGE: 12 and up
LEXILE READING LEVEL: 900L {what is this?}
PUBLISHER: Razorbill
YEAR PUBLISHED: 2011
NO. PAGES: 314
GENRE{S}: Realistic Fiction
MAIN CHARACTER GENDER: Male
AWARD{S}:
YALSA Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers
ISBN: 159514434X
READ & REVIEWED BY: Shannon - StorySnoop


The Story
Playground—Book Review

Thirteen-year old Butterball has it rough. His parents are divorced, and his mom has moved him out of the city he loves into a Long Island suburb. He misses his dad--and hates his mom's new "friend", Evelyn, who always seems to be hanging around. To make matters worse, he is forced to go talk to some therapist named Liz. Liz tries to get to the bottom of an incident that led Butterball into therapy, and another kid into the hospital. While Butterball refuses to participate in therapy, eventually, readers begin to understand what made him the bully he is today. Loosely inspired by hip hop artist 50 Cent's own childhood, and written with his own eighth grader in mind, Playground is a story of redemption, understanding, and hope.
The Scoop
Playground—Book Review
{spoiler alert}

This is a gripping and inspiring story based on the artist's own life, and inspired by his own teen son. Butterball (named for his weight problem) is a bully capable of violent acts. While it may be difficult to understand--or even like--this character, through some insight into his life, the reader will begin to have compassion for this kid. Butterball's parents are divorced and his mostly absent father rewards him for bullying, and teaches and encourages him to steal. He has no male role model, and nothing but peer pressure at school. He doesn't like that he has moved, and when he begins to realize that his mother's new friend is actually her partner, he struggles with this. Through time and therapy, trial and error, Butterball learns to differentiate right from wrong, and that he has the power of choice--he can choose to live any kind of life he wants. He stands up to peer pressure, stops bullying, accepts his mom and her partner as the good parents they are, sees his dad for the jerk he is, and embraces therapy. Butterball concentrates on his passion for making movies, and staying out of trouble. This is a great book for the twelve and up crowd, both boys and girls, and especially reluctant readers. It does contain some graphic language and violence.
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