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Rapper's worthy ideals poorly expressed; Children's Book.

Byline: Jayne Howarth

Playground 50 Cent (Quercus, pounds 6.99) A children's book? By rapper 50 Cent? Yes, you read that right.

As one who generally rolls their eyes when a celebrity turns their attentions to the world of children's/ young adult literature (I give you Madonna, Katie Price, Pete Andre, Sarah Ferguson, LL Cool J), I did not have high hopes.

There are notable exceptions, of course. David Walliams is the obvious one for contemporary readers, with his well-written, humorous and rather bonkers tales.

But what of hard-hitting Curtis Jackson III? He's hardly what you would call a champion of children, what with his prolific containing multiple references to drugs and murder.

But this self-confessed one-time violent bully, who has been on the wrong side of the law, hopes Playground will help to stop bullying in the playground.

It centres on 13-year-old Butterball, an overweight bully who spends his time bullying other students because he does not know how to contain his emotions.

He's from a broken family; his mother moved him to the suburbs and works all the hours she can so she can be a nurse, while his dad works in New York City and rarely has time for his son.

When Butterball beats up Maurice in the playground with a sock full of batteries, the school enrols him on counselling sessions with Liz, a therapist the surly teen is convinced knows nothing about how young people live their lives.

Butterball is a hard nut to crack and Liz has to tread slowly to find out why he attacked his fellow student and has fallen in with the wrong crowd.

He's cocky and arrogant, but you can't help but feel there's a vulnerability about Butterball.

I didn't like the character. There was no real depth to him or any of the other characters. The plot was also plodding at times and the narrative hardly inspiring, but the sentiments in the book are strong.

50 Cent is in no doubt that his bullying and bad behaviour as a younger man was wrong and he hopes his experiences will keep disaffected youngsters on the right path.

He's established the G-Unity Foundation to support students from low income families to become academically enriched. This is to be applauded and I hope too that the message contained within this book is a positive one for today's youths.

I just doubt it would have been published if 50 Cent hadn't been a global and hugely influential star.

Jayne Howarth
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Dec 22, 2011
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