Thursday, November 24, 2011

Playground by 50 Cent

Butterball is not happy to be going to therapy. What does someone like Liz understand about his life? He's teased because of his weight. His parents are divorced and he barely sees his dad; even worse, his mom moved him to a place that he hates. He has no friends, and the one friend he did have... well, he doesn't want to talk about that. Yeah, things might not be that great, but how is therapy going to help anything?

(Spoilers below)

Is it too much of a backhanded compliment to say that this book is better than I thought it was going to be? I'm usually not that optimistic about books written by celebrities - even a New York Times bestselling author like 50 Cent - for children, and even more hesitant for books that have some kind of obvious message. In this case, the issue is bullying, and the twist is that it's told from the perspective of the bully. Particularly strong were the scenes where Butterball realized how his actions affected how other people - including girls - saw him (as well as the incredibly sad and frustrating scenes where Butterball's dad engaged in his own destructive brand of parenting). The revelations near the end about Butterball's mom could have been handled a bit better (by both the character and the author), but maybe this will help to contribute to the normalization of gay parents in children's literature. The ending was a bit too neat for my liking, but it might go over better with younger readers who will take away a positive message about redemption.

Find it at IndieBound. 

Read it with:
Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
The 50th Law by 50 Cent and Robert Greene
From Pieces to Weight by 50 Cent
My Mixed-Up Berry Blue Summer by Jennifer Gennari
Inexcusable by Chris Lynch

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