Monday, April 21, 2014

How much would you pay for Birds of America?

By Trina Boice

As a writer, I obviously love books, so I wanted to share a special one with you today.  It's a copy of John James Audubon's The Birds of America that was sold at an auction in London for $11.5 million!  To date, it's the most expensive book ever sold.  Why?

It's one of the best preserved editions of the 19th century masterpiece and includes 435 hand-colored illustrations.  Only about 120 complete sets of these illustrations are believed to exist in the world.  Richard Davies, a rare and used books specialist, explained the interest in this book: "Aside from being famous in the rare book world, The Birds of America has also immense historical and ornithological importance.  Some of the birds John James Audubon painted are extinct and he also discovered new species."

Measuring over three feet in height, the book was created between 1827 and 1838.   The author was insistent that The Birds of America be made up of life-size illustrations that showed all the known species of North America.  He hunted the birds down and shot them so that he could prop them up on wires to paint.  Each drawing took about 60 hours to complete.  Sadly, and ironically, many of the birds in his book are now extinct, such as the Labrador Duck, Great Auk, Esquimaux Curlew and Carolina Parakeet.

It takes two people to pick up the book...and they do so very carefully since the book costs more money than they will ever earn in a lifetime!

Check out this video that shows some of the beautiful artwork in this famous masterpiece!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game flies into theaters and your store shelf on DVD

                                By author Trina Boice

I always thrilled for LDS authors when their popular books are made into movies!   Congratulations to Orson Scott Card for making it on to the big screen with his beloved   Ender's Game

Here is my review of the film I posted on my movie review blog.   I thought it would be good to share here since the movie is now out on DVD!

Movie Title:  Ender's Game
PG-13, 1 hour 53 minutes

Grade: A-

In a Nutshell:  This sci-fi tween thriller deserved to be made into a film, as the book has been popular with kids since 1985.  Congrats to Orson Scott Card for making it on to the big screen!  Most of the source book fans have been very pleased with the movie adaptation, although they admit that a few interesting aspects were rushed or necessarily left out because of the time constraints. The battle scenes feel like you’re watching someone play a video game, but the special effects are pretty amazing.  You’ll feel like a 12 year old kid again and wish you could float around in the battle simulator.

Things I liked:   
  • I love Harrison Ford, even if I have to see him as a grumpy, aging man. 
  • I’ve also adored Ben Kingsley ever since he won an Oscar for Best Actor in Gandhi many years ago.  The design on his face was very cool and supposed to represent a way to speak for the dead.  His father was a Maori.  I have a friend whose ancestry is Maori.  He plays the ukulele and sings songs in Maori for his students.
  • You feel like you get your money’s worth because the film is long, but moves quickly.  
  • I thought Ender’s squeaky, pubescent voice was perfect because it constantly reminds you that he is still just a boy.  Asa Butterfield does a terrific job.  I loved him in Hugo.  Ben Kingsley was in that movie as well.  It was simply stunning in 3D.
  • I liked the cadets’ white casual wear and would like one for myself to wear at home when I’m just kicking around.
  • I hadn’t read the book, so I had no idea what was going to happen.  I love twists.
  •  The zero gravity room looks super fun!  I went Indoor Skydiving in Las Vegas recently and had a blast…literally!  A giant fan blasts air at you so that you float.  I highly recommend it!  This is a picture of my husband, son, and I after our indoor skydiving experience, which is probably the closest we'll ever get to a zero gravity feeling:   

Things I didn’t like:
  • So, it only takes 3 adults to run that entire spaceship? 
  • I was surprised at the amateur-looking credits at the end of the movie.
  • It takes itself a little bit too seriously and could have been improved with more peppering of humor.

Uplifting theme:
  • The way we win matters.
  • “Let us train our soldiers so they can be gifted at war AND peace.”

Funny lines:
  • “This is basic rocket science, people!”  - teacher
  • “Game over.” - Ender

Interesting lines:
*  When you truly understand your enemy, you love them.”

Things to look for:
  • The button on the back of their necks that is used to monitor them reminded me of The Matrix .
  • Hailee Steinfeld plays a character whose name is Petra.   Petra means rock in Latin.  She becomes Ender’s rock throughout their experience in the training experience in the International Fleet.

Tips for parents: There is a lot of violence, some bullying, and a repeated use of the word “A**hole” in Spanish by a character named Bonzo.  There is no other profanity, other than mean name-calling by bullies.  There are some interesting moral dilemmas that could provide interesting dinner conversations for your family.

If your tween loved the movie, you can find the box set of the book series here: