Cloud Busting discussion guide



Author: Malorie Blackman

Publisher: Random House

Synopsis: Despite his Mum's insistence, Sam doesn't want to be friends with Davey, he thinks Davey's a first class, grade A, top of the dung heap moron. But one day Davey saves Sam's life and a bond is formed between them. Sam is still embarrassed to be seen with Davey, but little by little he has to admit, when it's just the two of them, Davey is a lot of fun.

But then something terrible happens to Davey...Told in verse, in first person, this is the touching story of an extraordinary friendship, that changes two boys lives for ever. An uplifting tale that truly sings out.

Reasons for selection. This short verse novel is powerful, moving and thought provoking. It deals with issues that are relevant to children's lives and will stimulate discussion about important themes and issues. Written in verse it provides an opportunity for readers to consider the relationship between form and content and its impact on the reader.

Discussion points:

Before reading

  • Ask the children if they have heard of Malorie Blackman. What do they know about her? Do they know any other books that she has written. Record their ideas. provide some supplementary information e.g. her role as Children's Laureate, books turned into plays by the RSC etc.
  • Make a collection of Malorie Blackman's books in the class book corner.
  • Explain that cloud busting is a novel written in verse. Have they come across any others? Make a collection of age-appropriate verse novels for the class book corner e.g. Sharon Creech 'Love that Dog' and 'Hate that Cat'.
  • Celebrating difference.  Discuss Davey’s statement about how the worst thing in the world would be, ‘to look and walk and talk and think like everyone else.’
    • Do you agree with that. Is fashion about looking like everyone else? 
    • In what ways are people different?
    • Why do we sometimes feel threatened by people who seem different to us?
    • Discuss the differences between Sam and Davey and why they got on so well.
    • How can being friends with people who are very different to us add exciting new dimensions to our friend- ships?
  • Bullying: ‘The class bully The class moron The class idiot His name was Sam In case you haven’t already guessed I am Sam Sam is me I’m the one who made Davey’s life a misery’
    • Discuss Sam’s character with the class. 
    • Is he bullying Davey? In what way?
    • Why do you think he goes on bullying Davey in school even though they become friends outside school?
    • What made Sam realise his behaviour was wrong? How does he feel about his own behaviour?
    • How did Davey handle being bullied? Did he handle it well?
    • Discuss bullying in more general terms – what motivates people to bully? What might it feel like to be bullied? How can schools help to stop bullying?
    • Consider whether it is possible to be both a bully and be bullied.
  • Friendship:  ‘I stood up and shouted With all the breath in my body And all the power in my throat, ‘Dave is my best friend. So what d’you think of that then?’
    • Discuss the meaning of being a friend and what good qualities are in a friend.
    • Why does Sam betray his friend?
    • Have you ever been faced with a similar situation? How did you deal with it?
  • Medical issues – 'Cloud Busting' raises some important medical issues which could be used to raise children's awareness of similar conditions.
    • Davey has a life threatening peanut allergy - what should he avoid?
    • Why is important to be aware of these allergies?
    • Discuss the difference between a personal dislike and an allergy.
    • Talk about medical alert bracelets, as most people with severe nut allergies will wear them.
    • Raise awareness of other medical conditions might that warrant wearing a medical alert bracelet. Other medical conditions that exist in your school could also be raised at this point to develop pupils’under- standing of the needs of others and the importance of acting responsibly.
    • Discussion could be followed by a visit from St John’s Ambulance, The Red Cross or the school nurse to talk to children about what they should do in emergencies
  • Writing Poetry: ‘Does it have to rhyme, sir?’ ‘No.’ ‘How do we start, sir?’ ‘With whatever comes Into your head. Just let it out. Don’t hold back. Don’t stop yourselves. Don’t censor yourselves. Let your words flow…’ 
  • 'Cloudbusting' is a book about the power of poetry to express deep felt emotion and the cathartic experience of writing through your emotions. It is cleverly written in different poetic forms and styles and children will incidentally learn much about poetry from reading the book. Additionally, at the end of the book Malorie Blackman also writes about the inspiration for her own poetry writing and includes information on the different styles included in the book.
    • Discuss he way the book has been written and the impact this has on the reader.
    • If you have a problem, can it help to write about it?

After reading

Poetry by heart:

Several poems in the book lend themselves to group performance., for example, the opening poem, ‘Mr Mackie Said'. This poem works well read by two groups of voices.


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