Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Giant Killer & The Roby Family, by A.L.O.E.

The Giant Killer, or The Battle All Must Fight

by A.L.O.E. (Charlotte Maria Tucker)

My Rating:  10 out of 10 stars = Excellent

Recommended age range:  5 ­- 110

      What happens when the over­indulged twins Constantine and Augustus are sent to a poor country clergyman to be educated?  The twins come from a rich and influential family, and are impressed with the idea that the rules which may apply to the conduct of others are by no means binding upon them.  They immediately make themselves a great nuisance to the Roby family, especially the three children­ Aleck, Bertha and Laura, who quickly discover that they are not so good as they had supposed before the coming of the Probyn twins.  Mrs. Roby, with a view to helping both her own children, and her temporary charges,  writes a story which she titles The Giant Killer.  In the story, a brave knight, named Fides, has a commision from his King to travel through the land toward the Great City and slay all the wicked giants he meets.  He successively attacks and kills Giants Sloth, Selfishness, Untruth, Hate and Pride.  The children do not at once
respond to this instructive tale, but coupled with the kind and wise treatment of Reverend and Mrs. Roby, it has an effect upon Constantine and the Roby children.  Augustus is sometimes pricked, but it has no very lasting effect upon him.

     The insight and careful allegory of the authoress are clearly displayed in this simple child's tale.  Having spent much of her life in India, she realized the value of allegory rightly applied, and it is often used in her books (such as A Lost Jewel, The Mine, and The Search after a Pearl, contained in the book Seven Perils Passed).

Here is the link to The Giant Killer.  It is also available from Google books (which is particularly handy if you want to read it on an Android device).

The Roby Family, or Battling With the World

    The Giant Killer’s sequel, The Roby Family, or Battling With the World, shows the continuing struggles of the family, after the death of Rev. Roby.  Constantine and Augustus are sent home, and it is now that they show how much they were really impressed while in the home of the godly Roby family.  Augustus soon goes back to his lazy and selfish ways, but Constantine shows signs of change, which although mixed with pride and far from perfect, are very hopeful.

     Aleck goes to sea so as not to be a drain on his mother’s slender resources, little Laura is placed with a long­time family friend, Bertha goes to live with her grandfather, and Mrs. Roby takes up a position as governess to a rich family.  Each has their own private struggles- Aleck’s is giving up his dream of entering the ministry, and instead taking to the rough seafaring life which is the only position open to him.  Mrs. Roby is exposed to unkind and unruly pupils, and the ungodly habits of the family grate upon her fine sense of right.  Poor Bertha has perhaps the hardest struggle of all, as she has to live with an unkind aunt, who is so stingy that she keeps the house almost freezing because of the price of coal, buys the cheapest possible food, in spite of her aged father-­in-­law, whom she is supposed to be caring for, and forces Bertha to pay for a
rug which she accidentally ruined by using it to smother dangerous flames when the servant’s dress caught fire.

     In the end, each one overcomes their temptations, and trusting God for strength, embraces the lot He has given them.  And then suddenly, they are amply provided for from a most unexpected source when an old man with a secret sin on his conscience from years past comes to make restitution, learning that it is never too late for repentance.

This one is also available only on Internet Archive and Google books.  The Roby Family Link

     These two stories are excellent read-­alouds for children (and adults) of all ages.  Some careful comprehension questions are good for children, especially those who don’t like to think more than is necessary.  They are a good reminder to everyone to be on the watch for the “giants” which we all have to battle.

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