About the stories 

About Sunnydown

Sunnydown is a fictional town in England, not far from The Big City. It has a very busy town centre with lots of shops and a market taking place twice a week. There used to be a number of coal mines in the area around the town however they have all closed down. Lots of people travel to the The Big City, or other nearby towns to work. 

Sunnydown has a number of schools, and colleges for children and young people who live in the town and surrounding area to attend.

The town is home to people of all backgrounds and cultures who live together as part of the same community. It has a museum, a large park with a skateboard and BMX track, a leisure centre, a railway station, a cinema and restaurants as well as the bus station and bus garage.

The story plots

The stories are all based on true events which have been adapted to make them suitable for younger children and many are based on the experience of the author.

Each story consists of between 11 and 15 colourful, illustrated pages.

Creating characters and writing stories

It is easy for children to create characters and stories for themselves using their imagination. Parents, carers and teachers all have a part to play in encouraging children to develop and maintain their imagination and here are some tips to help:

The next time you and your child see a bus, both of you take a look at the front and try to imagine it with a face - you can talk about whether is it has a smiling face, or does it have a sad face? Do you both think the bus is a girl or a boy? What name do you think your new bus character will have?

Now you know what your bus will look like, and what he or she is called, think about how your new bus character might behave. Is your bus rushing around like a busy bee, or is it driving slowly and majestically? Are there lots of passengers sitting on it or is it quite empty? Where do you think it might be going and what adventures do you think your bus will have on that journey?

Now, write the story down and draw some colourful pictures of your bus to illustrate what happens.

Many of the story apps designed for Android phones include a 'story writer' function which allows the reader to use some of the pictures to write their own story which is saved to the phone and can be read or changed at any time.

Please note: the story writer function is not available within all apps. 

The downloadable PDF comics also include pictures for children to use to write their own stories. 

Help with reading

Everyone can enjoy reading our stories but very young children may want an adult to help them. It can be fun to read with a grown-up in the evening or at bedtime. Children can also read them with their friends or as part of a reading group at school. If they are using one of the story apps, children can have the story read to you by tapping the main picture on each page - and if they have written their own story on the phone, that can also be read aloud by the app as well.

Remember to encourage children to use their phonic grid to help with any new or hard words. 

Educational content

Although each story can be used just as a story, there are also underlying themes within each one that can be used to reinforce the learning experience of younger children and link to key skills development. For example, many of the stories involve friendships, or the attempts to make friends, and could be used to explore relationships. Other stories will address issues such as bullying, taking responsibility for actions, understanding the consequences of actions, personal hygiene and punctuality as well as the core subjects of mathematics, English and science.

Each story will provide guidance on the main underlying story theme. Fun questions throughout the story will reinforce the key theme, but also be used to address other issues raised. Although alternative answers are provided for the reader to select, it may not be as simple as the response being 'right' or 'wrong' - it is the opinion of the reader that is sought and promotes thought, debate and discussions. Feedback on the chosen answer will always be given.

Other activities available within apps developed for Android devices*

Many of the story apps developed for Android devices will have other activities accessible from the last page of the story in addition to the 'story writer' function. 

Stories may include a fun quiz to help reinforce understanding of the key messages being conveyed by the story. 

Most stories will also include 1 other activity which is used to further develop key skills, such as:

  • Dexterity/number orders: use your finger to connect the numbered dots in the correct order to complete a picture.
  • Problem solving: help the buses negotiate the maze to reach their destination without hitting the obstacles.
  • Maths: simple maths exercises for counting, addition or subtraction.
  • Science: simple exercises to compare height, length and width.
  • English: simple exercises to identify missing words or to use alternative descriptive words.  
More activity types will be developed to match specific stories.

If text-to-speech is enabled on the device, tapping the main picture on each page will permit the associated text to be read out loud, and this even works for the mini stories children have written themselves.

*Please note: activities may not be available within all apps.