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Storybook Opening

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"Oh, no, no, not the book! How many have seen "opening the book" before? Close the book. We're not doing that."
Chicken Little, Buck Cluck defying and lampshading the Storybook Opening and mocking Disney's use of the trope

A common device for starting a story, especially fairy tales, is to begin with a book opening. The Opening Narration goes on as normal, but as it goes on the book opens and we fade to see the story itself being played out. Just as if it came from the book itself. 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.

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



    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".
  • 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 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.
  • 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 
  • Monk uses this for the summation in the last episode of season 3, "Mr. Monk and the Kid"
  • 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".
  • The "Gingerbread" episode of Taggart used this. (The story was loosely inspired by Hansel and Gretel).
  • The Highlander episode, "The Stone Of Scone" has this.
  • 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.

  • 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.
  • The old Crystal Dynamics game The Horde does this.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Odin Sphere: The story of is contained within a series of books a young girl is reading one afternoon. Each character's New Game+ is simply Alice closing the book at the end and starting again from the beginning.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Grand Knights History
  • Chrono Cross
  • Wild ARMs
  • Atelier Marie
  • 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.
  • Mace: The Dark Age
  • Dark Cloud
  • MapleStory originally had a login screen which was the first page in a book.
  • Brave Hero Yuusha: The storybook is called The Hero & The Demon.
  • Cuphead opens with a live-action storybook cutscene explaining Cuphead's situation, and closes out the same way.
  • 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.

    Web Animation 

    Western Animation 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Chowder: The opening credits, only instead of a storybook, it's a cookbook.
  • The 30-minute adaptation of The Little Engine That Could opened and closed this way.
  • 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.
  • Used in The Backyardigans episode "The Secret of Snow", the only episode to not begin with an aerial of the backyard.
  • The VeggieTales episode "Lyle The Kindly Viking" opens with Archibald reading the story from a pop-up book.
  • 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.


Video Example(s):


Cuphead Opening Book

The game beggins with a book explaining how Cuphead and Mugman got into trouble with the devil

How well does it match the trope?

5 (21 votes)

Example of:

Main / StorybookOpening

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