The author photo on the back of the newest young adult book about teen bullies should look familiar. His name? Curtis Jackson III. Or as he's known in the rap world, 50 Cent. Yes, someone let 50 Cent write a book for kids.
Now for the bigger surprise. Playground is one young adult book you should put on your kid's nightstand, pronto.
Because Fidy isn't just the rapper famous for being shot nine times and surviving, pulling himself up by his bootstraps and escaping gang life. He's the father of a teenage son who is concerned about the bullying epidemic that's taken American high schools by storm in part because he remembers his own childhood. 50 Cent was a bully who had to reform himself to get ahead. He doesn't want other kids to have to fall as low as he did.
50 Cent's Playground is the story of a high school bully named Butterball, a restless, angry kid undergoing mandatory counseling for taking a sock full of batteries to the face of another student in the school play yard. It's not the fluff and nonsense topic of songs like Candy Shop, but an advance copy sent to The Stir proved to be one of those rare "hard to put down" books wherein the character is so loathsome that you have to keep reading to find out why.
What Playground gives American parents (and our teenagers) is the metamorphosis of a bully, a downtrodden kid who steps up to crush others. As we begin to shine a light on the myriad faces of bullying, this is still a rock that school officials find difficult to turn over. A bullied kid turned bully means people have failed this child twice over.
But if we don't know what makes a bully, how do we prevent them from acting? Prevention is about being proactive, after all. As parents, we need to remind our kids that a kid ignored, taunted, etc. may well be the one who tortures them next. So, you might not let your kids listen to a 50 Cent song, but his is a book parents could and should use.
Are you surprised that 50 Cent is the guy doling out parenting advice? Is it useful?
Image via Penguin