Storybook Forest – click any image for full size
If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be very intelligent, read them more fairy tales.
– Albert Einstein
The first sentence of this quote is to be found in Storybook Forest, the second of two regions designed by Nessa Zamora (Noralie78), and which Caitlyn and I visited recently as a result of a suggestion by Miro Collas (the other being Lost Unicorn Forest Sanctuary which, along with Lost Unicorn Gallery (designed by Jennifer May Carlucci (JenniferMay Carlucci), you can read about here). At the time, I noted that Storybook Forest deserved a post of its own – so here it is.
As the opening quote and the name of the region suggest, this is very much a place focused on the fairy stories and a love of books and reading. Linked to Lost Unicorn Forest Sanctuary by a bridge that also doubles as the region’s landing point, Storybook Forest is another immersive environment rich in detail. Like Lost Unicorn, it is richly wooded and divided into islands. In places the walls and towers of a fairy tale castle compete with the trees in matters of height. In others the trees, with paths and trails winding under their boughs, are left to their own devices.
Within the walls of the castle, just beyond the landing point is a village teeming with animal folk waiting in greeting for visitors. They have taken Einstein’s words to heart: everywhere are books of poems, fairy tales and adventures – there’s even a little library in the shape of a shelf of books! Wonderfully cluttered yet carefully laid out, it is the first hint of the care Nessa has taken in bringing things within the region together to create what feels like a story in and of itself.
A second arched gateway leads the way further into the region, but I urge you to spend time taking the longer of the two routes to it, so that all of the delights of the village might be seen – and there are a lot, not all of them immediately obvious. When you do reach this second gateway, you’ll find it guarded by a dedication:
To the boy or girl who reads by flashlight
Who sees dragons in the clouds
Who feels most alive in worlds that never were
Who knows magic is real
This is for you.
As well as a dedication, it stands as an invitation to let go of adult things, embrace our imaginations and let them roam free alongside us through the rest of the region, and immerse ourselves in all it offers and brings to mind.
And there is so much to find here: from Peter Pan – delightfully encapsulated in a little diorama using figurines by Silas Merlin – to Cinderella, complete with pumkin-turned-coach, to Hansel and Gretel, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White (complete with an interesting twist on the Seven Dwarves!). Each tale and fable is presented in its own setting, reached via winding trails than offer hints of other stories, such as Little Red Riding Hood, the Frog Prince and Bambi, and further little vignettes of local characters and creatures.
Central to these vignettes is a certain tea party, set against a backdrop of water falls, presided over by a “Deppian” (so to speak) Mad Hatter, with a White Rabbit, Cheshire Cat and – of course – a young Alice – all in attendance. There are further elements and hints of Lewis Carroll’s tale to be found here – the deck of cards with a heart on prominent display, the sign post (which admittedly can be found elsewhere), and a rabbit hole with its invitation to jump down it. This should be heeded for an extra – if brief – adventure fully In keeping with the theme of the setting.
As well as a the vignettes and dioramas retelling their tales, Storybook Forest offers many places where visitors can sit and allow memories wash over them or have their imagination take flight – or rest their avatars while their camera takes flight across the landscape. These places can be found scattered through the woods, out on the waters than split the land and – in the case of a harpsichord awaiting a player – up atop Cinderella’s tower.
A delight for the eye and the imagination, Storybook Forest has been beautifully conceived and executed, forming a marvellous destination either on its own (which I recommend, if only to give it the time it deserves whilst exploring, and to avoid any overloading of the eye and imagination), or as a part of a broader visit that encompasses Lost Unicorn Forest Sanctuary and the lost Unicorn Gallery. When visiting, please consider making a donation to the region’s continued existence via the little book piles scattered throughout the land.