Fiction Review: Playground: The Mostly True Story of a Former Bully by 50 Cent

It’s No Name Calling Week (and yesterday was National Compliment Day) so we thought we’d do a review on a book about bullying. Let me just start out by saying that I never thought that I would be reading a book written by 50 cent, let alone reviewing it for the HPB Blog. A few months ago I received Playground: The Mostly True Story of a Former Bully and decided to take it with me on the plane when I went to Chicago for a remainder book show. It’s definitely a quick read. I finished it in the short hour and a half ride — and, I was kind of surprised at how much I didn’t hate it.

Butterball is a 13 year old kid who is overweight and has divorced parents. His dad is a deadbeat and his mom works constantly as a nurse. All he wants in life is to be one of the cool kids. He wants the right shoes and the right pants. He wants to be athletic. He wants people to like him. He quickly discovers after he beats up another kid that a few guys like him – but are they the right kind of friends that he wants? Soon these so-called friends are encouraging him to be more and more physically violent towards other kids. Butterball is placed into therapy and during his sessions, slowly the reader learns about the different “problems” that Butterball is going through.

Playground is a great story about how rushing to conclusions can have consequences and learning that everyone has their own problems.  I just wish it didn’t have such explicit language so that I could recommend it for youngsters. I think this would be a great resource for anyone who is a teacher or is planning to become one. It’s a great reminder that sometimes kids act up because they have a lot of other bad things going on in their lives.

Let us also recommend some resources for anyone having a problem with bullying. It’s important to remember that bullies can be found anywhere – in school or even in the workplace as an adult. Bullying is even more of a threat now that it can pervade home lives through text messages and social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. If you or someone you know is in need of help, check out StopBullying.Gov, a website dedicated to helping both students and parents look for signs of bullying and take steps to deal with the problem.  The Cartoon Network also has a great Facebook page with great resources at StopBullying: Speak Up. Pacer’s National Bullying Prevention Center also has a great website, including touching stories of young students who have been bullied.

A lot of different celebrities are now joining in the effort to help eradicate bullying. 50 Cent, Demi Lovato, Jessica Simpson, Justin Bieber, Daniel Radcliffe, Queen Latifah, and Jim Carrey have all spoken out against bullying.  Ellen DeGeneres also has the website United Against Bullying. Even Sesame Street is joining in on the action with episodes dedicated to dealing with bullies. 

Please don’t wait to check out these resources or share them with a friend who is being bullied. There are people out there who are willing to help you.

Do you know of any other great resources or books for people to read about the subject of bullying? Feel free to share with us!

— Kristen B.

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