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Storybook Opening

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"Oh, no, no, not the book. How many have seen "opening the book" before? (screech) Close the book; we're not doing that."

A common device to start a story, especially fairy tales, is with a storybook opening up, usually accompanied by Opening Narration, and then the book's (usually illustrated) pages are replaced with the film's scenes of the story itself being played out, giving the impression of the narrative coming to life. Usually the story will finish with the book being closed.

The Trope Maker here is the Disney Animated Canon, which has used it since the very beginning with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

With the advent of comic-book film/TV adaptations, the use of comic art was introduced as a variant of this trope. Comics count as books too.

A subtrope of Framing Device. A sister trope of the one where the book is shown as it is being written. See also Myth Prologue.

Not to be confused with Plot-Triggering Book, when a book becomes a plot element In-Universe.


    open/close all folders 

  • One Empire Today commercial (boasting dialogue inspired by Goldilocks) does this with a book of carpet samples, reading "Once upon a time..." on the front.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Kämpfer: The very silly episode 12 did this.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Used in Enchanted, for both the opening and the closing. Fittingly, the song that ends the movie opens with a line about "storybook endings".
  • Godmothered: In the beginning, a book called "The Joy of Fairy Godmothering" opens to a page with clouds on it, which then part to reveal the film's first scene.
  • Oddly used in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It doesn't happen at the beginning or end, but about twenty minutes into the film, with the description of King Arthur's Knights of the Round Table.
  • The extended edition of the Lord of the Rings DVD menu.
  • Disney's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea opens in this style.
  • Used in the 1937 Shirley Temple version of Heidi for the opening credits and first paragraph.
  • Used in the Laurel and Hardy version of Babes in Toyland, but cut from many prints. Mother Goose sings a song about Toyland and flips the pages of a book that shows all the main characters in live action, ending with Stan and Ollie.
  • Elf not only has a storybook in its prologue, opening credits, and closing scene, but the menus on the DVD resemble pop-up books.
  • Snow White and the Three Stooges opens this way, with the Stooges having fun at points.
  • In the extended version of David Lynch's Dune (1984) one of the first shots after the opening credits is a shot of a copy of the original book by Frank Herbert.
  • In The Smurfs 2, Narrator uses a pop-up book to tell the story of how Smurfette came to be at the beginning of the movie.
  • The 2016 version of The Jungle Book doesn't have a storybook opening, but it does have a storybook closing, with the book being the very same one that opened the original animated classic.
  • The Disney Channel original movie Descendants "modernizes" this using a computer tablet in its opening.
  • Superman: The Movie does this prior to the credits, with a copy of Action Comics and a young boy's voice recounting some of the Daily Planet's backstory.
  • Thirteen Women begins with a copy of the novel on which it is based opening to show a page explaining about the power of suggestion, complete with references to a psychology journal. The movie proper then starts.
  • The Return of Sherlock Holmes opens with a shot of The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, which opens to display the cast list for the film.
  • The Quest doesn't have a Storybook Opening, but ends with a Storybook Closing for some inexplicable reason.
  • Each of the segments in the Anthologyfilm Twice-Told Tales begins with a pair of skeletal hands opening opening a book to reveal the title of the story while Vincent Price starts a narration as the page fades into the actual scene.
  • Bedtime Story (1964) opens with a popup book showing some of the movie's locations, with Freddy shown as a wolf spying on a woman from behind a tree.


    Live-Action TV 
  • During the 1970's and 1980's, this was the introduction to the Soap Opera All My Children, only it was a photo album rather than a book. The 1990's updated it with a slew of photographs falling into the album before closing it.
  • In the second season of Evil, each episode is framed by a page from a children's book called "The Pop-Up Book of Terrifying Things", which is alphabet themed, with each pop-up presenting a different letter. Each episode takes its name from one of the entries.
  • The Highlander episode, "The Stone Of Scone" has this.
  • Hustle does it with the season 4 episode "A Designer's Paradise", although the book doesn't appear until partway into the episode when Albert starts explaining the con in terms of the fairytale "The Emperor's New Clothes".
  • Monk uses this for the summation in the last episode of season 3, "Mr. Monk and the Kid"
  • The intro to My Special Book features Book Girl emerging from behind a giant book, the main setting of the series, and inviting the viewers to join her before opening the book.
  • The "Gingerbread" episode of Taggart used this. (The story was loosely inspired by Hansel and Gretel).

  • When it first opened, the 2013 musical adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory had an animated opening sequence about the making of chocolate that began this way (the book a large, purple one with a golden W on the cover). The narrator began with the lines "This is a story about the most important thing in the world: Chocolate." This sequence was cut in 2014 with the first cast turnover, possibly for pacing reasons.

    Video Games 
  • The opening cinematics of Arabian Fight depicts a bound book resembling a Quran opening. Cue the game starting.
  • Atelier Marie: The Alchemist of Salburg
  • Bram Stoker's Dracula for the SNES and Genesis has the player opening a book titled "Vampyres" and turning to a new page between levels. However, there are no cutscenes.
  • Brave Hero Yuusha: The storybook is called The Hero & The Demon.
  • Castlevania 64 starts with the book already open on the a page holding the file select menu. Starting a new game results in your signature appearing on the document, and the pages flipping backwards to reveal it's a copy of the Necronomicon.
  • Chrono Cross
  • Cuphead opens with a live-action storybook cutscene explaining Cuphead's situation, and closes out the same way.
  • Dark Cloud
  • Eternity: The Last Unicorn begins with the Alfheim Grimoire opening, followed by the backstory's narration before it segues into gameplay.
  • Grand Knights History
  • The old Crystal Dynamics game The Horde does this.
  • Kirby's Epic Yarn: Every cutscene is presented as a storybook, with anything not from the yarn world presented as a paper cutout. It's also narrated by a calm and soothing audiobook-style voice.
  • The Legend of Tian-ding has a Manhua opening with the game's poster recreated on the front of a comic book. It then opens and segues into the first stage.
  • Lords of Magic starts off with a book opening that narrates the rise of the dark lord Balkoth and how he disrupted the previously peaceful land of Urak.
  • Mace: The Dark Age
  • MapleStory originally had a login screen which was the first page in a book.
  • Myst has a variant; Atrus narrates as the Myst book tumbles through a starry void, before landing in front of you on a...surface. Open the book, touch the picture, and the game begins. Since you're supposed to be in a library as the Framing Device, one can assume that it was actually falling off a shelf, and the player picks it up to begin.
    • The book is actually falling through a starry void, having been dropped into it as explained in the sequel Riven. If you've played your way through the entire Myst series including Uru, you'll know that the book fell through the Star Fissure, and that the "surface" mentioned above would be the ground in the New Mexico desert. A funny Fridge Logic twist is that, if you've also read the books, you'll know that you could have picked up the Myst book, entered the Crevice nearby, and navigated your way through the caves to D'ni just like Ti'ana did in Myst: The book of Atrus. Then you could hand the book directly to Atrus where he sat, avoiding the entire first game and "winning" without ever having linked anywhere nor visited Myst island.
  • Odin Sphere: The story of is contained within a series of books a young girl is reading one afternoon. Each character's New Game Plus is simply Alice closing the book at the end and starting again from the beginning.
  • Radical Dreamers: This Super Nintendo Stellaview game uses it as well. One of the few examples where the story is related through (it is implied) the text of the book itself. Chrono Cross does the same thing, only since it isn't a text-based game, the example isn't quite as unusual.
  • The events of Ratchet & Clank Future: Quest for Booty are told via a book from Rusty Pete towards Captain Slag, both of whom narrate the story.
  • Resident Evil Village opens on a story titled "Village of Shadows", framed in the context of Mia telling the story to Ethan and their infant daughter, Rose. This story is rife with Foreshadowing, as the locations and the monsters reference the Four Houses and their lords and how the daughter being kidnapped by the witch references Miranda's kidnapping of Rose. The ending of the game finishes this story by showing the fight between the father and the witch that culminates in the former giving up his life to protect his daughter, mirroring how Ethan fought Miranda and his Heroic Sacrifice destroying the Megamycete to protect Rose and Mia.
  • Slashout has a Storybook Closing, capping on a screenshot of the four victorious heroes after the credits finish rolling.
  • Soul Edge's 'Edge Master Mode' had each character's journey represented as the pages of a book. Rather than the ending videos as shown when Arcade Mode was completed, it would be shown via illustrations in the book.
  • Skully starts with a book with Skully on it's front cover flipping open, which leads to the title screen. After Skully's Heroic Sacrifice and with Terry making amends with his siblings, the book then closes before the credits.
  • Super Mario Bros.
    • Yoshi's Story features a pop-up storybook. The opening scene presents the first several pages introducing the story. During gameplay, the page turns for each new world. At the end, the storybook reviews all six worlds, the final pages present a happy ending, and the book closes.
    • Paper Mario: The first four games begin with a book opening and the narrator informing the player what "Today's story" is going to be. Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam played with it by revealing the Paper Mario world really is held within a book in the regular Mario universe ... and having the characters escape.
    • Super Mario Galaxy 2 shows one of these when starting a new file, and during the credits. At the end, it is revealed that Rosalina had been narrating it as well as the whole game. The end scene also transitions into the Green Star Challenge.
  • Ultraverse Prime, befitting an arcade game based on a comic book, starts with a shot of the book's cover featuring the titular hero. The game then enters the book when the player hit start.
  • Valkyria Chronicles opens this way, and uses the book as a menu interface throughout. At the end, Ellet, the reporter following Squad 7 turns out to be the writer.
  • Wild ARMs

    Web Animation 

    Western Animation 
  • Used in The Backyardigans episode "The Secret of Snow", the only episode to not begin with an aerial of the backyard.
  • Chowder: The opening credits, only instead of a storybook, it's a cookbook.
  • Ferdinand the Bull didn't have one originally, but it was retroactively added in the 1950s when it was broadcast on Walt Disney's television show.
  • The 30-minute adaptation of The Little Engine That Could opened and closed this way.
  • Looney Tunes: Three Little Bops opens with a shot of the cover of the storybook of The Three Little Pigs, before cross-fading into showing the Pigs as bebop jazz musicians "playing music with a modern sound".
  • Winnie the Pooh: Disney's short subject versions take this to its logical conclusion by actually taking place in the book itself.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • The first episode opened with one, telling the "old pony's tale" that sets the events of the series in motion.
    • The show's final episode ends with the same book from the first episode closing at the very end of the song, "The Magic of Friendship Grows". After the book closes, it shines with a ding sound effect.
  • The first Season Finale of The Owl House starts with one of these, as King reads aloud from an illustrated book about Emperor Belos' rise to power.
  • Rocky and Bullwinkle: As pictured above, The "Fractured Fairy Tales" segment used this, but played with it, with the fairy first having difficulty turning the pages due to her small size, then having the book slam shut on her.
  • The VeggieTales episode "Lyle The Kindly Viking" opens with Archibald reading the story from a pop-up book.


The Sword in the Stone

The Sword in the Stone opens with a book explaining the setting.

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