Gloria the Summer Fun Bus

Children - Educational
39 Pages
Reviewed on 11/21/2020
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

I am a teacher. I love telling, and sharing stories with children.
When my children were little, they attended a Playbus, this was a play project based on a double-decker bus. We had many adventures and lots of fun with the bus. My story books have links to this involvement as well as adventures from my teaching career.
Following the first Jay-Jay story, based on the original Playbus, my daughter suggested I should write about some of the fun things we did with the bus.
The school holidays were a chance for the bus to offer playscheme play opportunities.
Over the summer, the Playbus would visit children around the town offering a safe place to play. Families, with children of all ages, would come along to explore and join in with the activities of the day.
Gloria, named after one of the Gatwick Airport Airbear mascots, was certainly a popular attraction and children would look forward to her visits.
Her story book arrived during 2020 lockdown, but did she get to have a summer of fun?
In fictional form, our Playbus lives on.
'A Spooky Tale' and 'The Christmas Play Rehearsal' have links to my teaching journey. A bus is always included somewhere.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite

Max thinks he’s too old to play with the younger children. Gloria, the once bright red London bus, now painted with vividly colored pictures to attract children, provides a fun, safe place for children to play during the holidays. Gloria is a Playbus. But Max thinks it’s only for little children. He’s angry that his mother wants him to play on the Playbus. At first he kicks the soccer ball against Gloria. Then he splatters paint all over the inside of the bus and pulls out the costumes from the chest. In spite of himself, though, and in spite of his anger, Max starts to have fun with the other children. Gloria the Playbus has worked her magic on this angry little boy.

Sue Wickstead has woven a charming tale around a converted London city bus. Gloria the Summer Fun Bus tells her story of providing fun times for children during their holidays. It’s a clever idea, one that re-purposes old buses for a positive use. The story begins with Gloria’s re-creation, but the plot really starts developing when Max enters the story along with his festering anger. The young reader will enjoy the journey Max takes to discover all that Gloria has to offer: crafts, dress-up, and so much more. While the key to this story (based on a real Playbus) is safe fun for everyone, it opens young minds to creative possibilities and how one’s imagination can be nurtured in such an environment as the Playbus. What a wonderful idea and what a great story! Love the pictures!

Mari Rockliffe

Bus book

My son loves buses and we are always buying bus books. This was a fun read for him and we have read it nearly 100 times!

Mr R D Baker

A great storybook for children

This is a lovely story book for children. Not only does it include a play bus (which is based on a real bus!), but also includes a number of positive messages such as giving things a go and being kind.

I loved the fact that one of the main characters thinks he’s too old to have fun and play with the other children, but after a while comes around to the idea and finally joins in. Once he does, he realises that he’s been missing out and enjoys having fun with the rest of them. The children in the story play a range of games so I love that it promotes physical play and encourages children to use their imagination.

I also like that it’s told from Gloria’s perspective and we hear her thoughts and how she hopes that he’s having a good time.

I read this with my daughters (7 and 4) and they both really enjoyed the story and liked the illustrations.

Susan Corcoran

Fun and informative

August 13, 2020
The Summer Fun Bus, is a story about the power of play and imagination in the lives of young children.

From the first page to the last Gloria The Summer Fun Bus is bright and fun to read. It is the story not just of Gloria, but a young boy called Max, who goes on a journey from an angry child to one who learns to enjoy play and have fun. So many children grow up too fast and lose the love of playing and interacting with other children and this book reminds young readers what a wonderous experience it is!

The bright and fun illustrations attract the readers attention and bring the story to life. For many children words and pictures combined are part of the reading journey and to see them combined so well in this book is fabulous, because it makes it feel immersive. They can see Max going from angry to fun loving and see him enjoying dressing up with the other children, building a spaceship from blocks to they can fly to the moon and imagine doing it themselves.

Sue Wickstead’s writing and storytelling is all about creating a fun and informative experience for young readers. She takes them on a journey by combining great writing and illustrations that are bright and attractive. Gloria The Summer Fun Bus has all the elements of classic children’s book, great story telling, a wonderful understanding of what sparks a child’s imagination and a character that will become another firm favourite of children everywhere.

Dash Fan

5☆ A Fun, Engaging and Educational Picture Book. A Must Read for all ages!

August 11, 2020
5☆ A Fun, Engaging and Educational Picture Book. A Must Read for all ages!

First of all I want to take a moment to appreciate how absolutely delightful the book cover is for this wonderful Children's Book.

I adore Sue Wickstead's books and always, eagerly look forward to the next adventure. Each of the stories in the series are based on real Fun Buses, which make each story extra special!
You can find out more at the back of each book.

This time round we are with Gloria The Summer Fun Bus.
Max and his younger brother have come to play on Gloria's Fun Bus.
However Max is reluctant to join in all the fun that she has to offer.
He thinks he is too old, his not a kid anymore and doesn't want to get involved unlike his younger brother.

However after seeing how much fun everyone else is having, he slowly comes round to the idea that it might be fun after all and gives it a try.

As with all Sue's stories she always incorporates an important educational message, this time the message is to not be afraid to try new things, to be kind, give encouragement, and not to judge things until you have tried them.

The Illustrations are superb, eye catching and engaging for children.
The length of the story is perfect, it's short enough and easy to follow for the younger readers and the older readers will appreciate the characters and the message behind the story.

Once again Sue has created a stunning, fun and engaging picture book for all ages.
Sue's passion for each of her Fun Buses simply shines through, from the beautiful Illustrations, to the individual characterisation of the buses, every little detail is superb.
I really hope that all of her books make it into schools as there is loads of educational potential.

I can't wait to discover who's Fun Bus is next!


Gloria - a fun book about a fun bus!

July 25, 2020
Gloria is a well paced, engaging story about a bus that is transformed into a summer holiday playbus. It follows in particular one little boy, Max, who doesn’t appear keen to partake in the activities on the bus. The story is supported throughout with lovely, interesting illustrations that really highlight how special Gloria is. I also liked that there were questions asked partway through, relating to a particular activity. If you give time to pause on these, they provide a lovely opportunity to reflect on the story so far and use your imagination to think of what might happen on the children’s adventures. Conversations were certainly sparked here, and immediately led to a playful session of re-enactment!

I would highly recommend this book to all parents or carers to read to any child who might enjoy an engaging picture book.

Nicola in South Yorkshire

Another great instalment in Sue Wickstead's bus adventures

July 25, 2020
Gloria the Summer Fun Bus is another lovely instalment in Sue Wickstead's bus adventure books.

Gloria was a red double decker airport bus until she was given a brand new look as a children's play bus. With a bright new livery she was transformed. Gorgeous colours and pictures of an aeroplane and a girl reading a book about a bus adorn the outside, and inside are numerous different play areas for children of all ages.

The story is about Harry and his big brother, Max. Harry is happy to get stuck into playing but Max believes he's too old for Gloria. She's disappointed and hopes that Max changes his mind. And he does! By the end of the story he's found something that he enjoys (dressing up) and he's eager to come back again and again to play. A success for Gloria!

There are lots of things I love about these bus stories. I really like the fact they are based on real play buses - what a lovely way to repurpose vehicles that may no longer be suitable for their original use. The stories are always sweet and fun and they make my son and I smile a lot. Then there's the pretty and joyful illustrations. All these things combine to make the bus stories a real joy for children and adults too.


ummer fun

July 19, 2020
Thank you very much to @rachelsrandomresources for inviting me on this fun tour and @sue_wickstead for a copy of your lovely book.


appealing and well illustrated

July 17, 2020
With its bright, colourful pictures and accessible text, Gloria is up to Sue's great standard for this series. You can read it as a standalone, but the variety of the play bus series makes the collection appealing. The illustrations underline the inclusive approach and I am sure all children will find something familiar within its pages. There is enough text for young readers to get their teeth into and the spacing and layout is excellent. There are also plenty of opportunities for the adults and children to share story points and to develop language skills.

Cat and Mouse say: don't miss the bus!
Thanks to the author for a copy of the bus

Jane Hunt

A bright, fun way to learn.

July 16, 2020
This is a lovely story about Gloria, who is an old bus. She's converted to a playbus and visits different areas so that children can play on her. The illustrations are bright and fun, and the text is easy to read and understand. Great for reading with younger children or for older children to read by themselves.

Max and his family visit Gloria the playbus, but he's too old for playing on the bus like his younger brother, or so he thinks. After refusing to join in, he makes a mess and then lots of noise. He realises no one is judging, and that he's having fun.

This is a fun way to learn that you shouldn't dismiss things without trying them first.


A well-considered, engaging story, with beautifully drawn pictures

May 16, 2020
Gloria The Summer Bus is another beautifully designed picture book with a super little story about a bad-tempered boy called Max, who eventually comes to appreciate the playbus, and realises that he has been behaving badly.

Max has a younger brother who is eager to play on the bus with the other children already inside. In time, Max is encouraged to get on the bus and try some of the activities. Soon, he is enjoying playing with the other children, and realises that by behaving badly and not joining in, he was missing out on so much fun.

The story is told in simple enough terms that young children can appreciate, with identifiable and relatable characters. The moral of the story is not to judge something until you've tried it, and that comes over really well as we see Max initially grudgingly enter the playbus, having dismissed it as being for 'babies', but changing his tune when he becomes involved, and starts to enjoy himself.

As with all Ms. Wickstead's books, Gloria The Summer Bus is written to be a shared reading experience for adults with young children, but the more confident young readers will also be able to read it for themselves.

At the back of the book is an interesting little piece of history about the real Gloria playbus, which is the inspiration for this children's story.

A well-considered, engaging story, with beautifully drawn pictures, and a cheeky little seagull, that will delight, educate and entertain young readers.