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Cloud Busting is Blackman's contribution to the present vogue for verse novels, and it shows some typical strengths and weaknesses of the genre. All the poems or verse-chapters are narrated by Sam, and tell the story of his strange, unlikely friendship with Davey, a new boy in his school class and a neighbour at home; their mothers are good friends. Sam is unkind to Davey at first. A conventional tough schoolboy with interests in football and bullying, he teases and torments the new boy, who has a quiet, ungregarious temperament and a strong poetic imagination. But a forced official 'friendship' prompted by Sam's mother turns unexpectedly into a genuine if secret one, not advertised at school. Sam changes under Davey's influence, but one day he carelessly betrays a confidence that Davey has entrusted to him, with disastrous consequences. After that, for no discernible reason, Davey becomes the kind of boy Sam was before their friendship began. 'Davey became me./ And I became him' is the explicit 'start of the penultimate poem. And there lies the trouble. The tale of their friendship is too schematic, the roles too neatly and implausibly exchanged, and neither boy is really convincing. There is some enjoyable use of verse-forms (haiku, limerick, shape poem), and when not self-indulgently lyrical the verse is sharp, exact and vivid, but this does not compensate for sketchy characters or a weak plot.