Now open once more in Second Life is Storybook, held and designed by Natalie Starlight and Nessa Nova. It is a setting, alongside of their Lost Unicorn I have long loved because I have always found both to be personally appealing with each visit I’ve made over the years, and because they are so visually rich and imaginative. Hence the multiple appearances of both within these pages, together with the Lost Unicorn Gallery.
The region started life in 2018 as Storybook Forest, and was immediately captivating in the manner in which it embraced the universe of fairy tales (as I wrote about in September 2018); and it set its tone with a quote that perfectly defined all that awaited visitors as they set out to explore its many paths:
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
After also two years of continuous life, Storybook endured a brief closure in mid-2020 before re-emerging in a new form a few months later, only to remain conspicuous by its absence when Lost Unicorn itself was rebuilt and re-opened in March 2022. I was therefore overjoyed to receive a personal invitation from Nessa to drop in and see the new Storybook design as it was being prepared for its official Grand (Re)-Opening.
It took a while to rebuild Storybook after our two previous versions, but we promise you it’s better than ever! All your favourite fairy tales are represented in a gorgeous forest. Picture perfect spots around every corner, loads to explore, both on land and underwater. Come prepared to take pictures, we will be introducing a Photo Contest as well!
– Nessa Nova in her invitation to visit the new Storybook
Sharing its Full Region home with the Lost Unicorn Gallery – which, in celebration of its Grand Opening is playing host to a special exhibition of art by Jeanette StellaMarina (LoredanaStMa) within its first floor display area – Storybook is a rich re-imagining of the original, brining back many of the popular fairy tale vignettes from that 2018 and 2020 builds, as well as ordering new touches of its own.
The landing point is located on an octagonal terrace sitting at the foot of the grand staircase leading up the great halls of the Lost Unicorn Gallery. The latter is located on its own island around which the rest of the region curls protective arms, a broad bridge spanning the waters between the gallery and the land, connecting the landing point (which can also be used to host open-air events) with a town square those who remember the original Storybook will likely find familiar.
Here the shops are packed with detail, and the townsfolk are invariably cuddly – although as most are going about their daily business, permission might best besought before any grabbing and cuddling goes on! The town is also where details of the Grand Opening photo contest can be obtained by those wishing to participate, whilst Mary Poppins keep an eye on things from overhead.
Within the wider setting are paths and trails leading to little scenes some might find familiar – such as a certain Tea Party or a rowing boat occupied by an infamous one-handed Captain (and followed by a certain crocodile, clock held in its jaws!). Elsewhere visitors might come across Hansel and Gretel or Little Red Riding Hood (looking oddly friendly with the BIG wolf), or Cinderella, the Queen of Hearts, Sleeping Beauty, the Darling Family, Snow White (in repose and surrounded by friends) and more.
Also awaiting discovery is the storybook circle, where visitors can relax around a campfire and enjoy a good book or two – although not necessarily by reading them! Not far away, within a little cove, people can also enjoy a ride on a whale’s back, or drop under water to a little mer-retreat – one of several under the waves, and which are connected one to the next along the channels that run through the region and also separate it from Lost Unicorn to the north.
When exploring, do keep an eye out for the interactive elements. Not just the places to sit – mouseover objects carefully, as you never know where you might find a waiting pose, be it peeking around a line of giant books or floating serenely above an oyster under the sea, or something else. Travel far enough, and you might get to find yourself on a yellow brick road or have the opportunity to “borrow” Prince Charming’s horse.
And also in your explorations, keep an eye out for the signage along the way, as many will provide you with a wealth of information on the tales by which they reside – information which may be familiar, but which also may make for new reading for you are not familiar with the full richness of European folk tales.
Obviously, given all that has been packed within the region, some viewer adjustments might be necessary (I personally switched my viewer down to a draw distance of 70 metres – given the forested nature of the region, this lost me little in the way of the detail but did help me boost FPS quite comfortably), and some things might require a little time for their textures to render. But these are minor points of niggle, easily put aside in the face of the sheer beauty and charm of the setting.
Once again completed with its own EEP settings and bearing a custom sounds cape, Storybook is a place heart both young and old can visit and appreciate, and find much that will being a smile to the lips and – perhaps – a song or two to mind!
- Storybook (Lost Unicorn Gallery, rated Moderate)