Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
The Ansgar Kids Treasury by Aleksandra Layland is part of the Windflower Saga Collection. Tiyo: The Dog Who Saved Ansgar and Bright Star: A Pony of the Kimbrii focus on two animals from The Windflower Saga. First, follow the adventures of a dog named Tiyo who spends his days as a herding dog. Tiyo's also quite the hero as he helps rescue a man he discovers injured in a cave. After Tiyo's story, explore the life of a pony named Bright Star who starts life in a herd before being chosen by a little girl named Keho. In a Land Far Away is a poetic and lyrical depiction of life in Kimbria, which includes mentions of the characters introduced in this collection. Keri and Kalina ends the collection by exploring daily life in Kimbria through the lives of two little girls who live at a boarding school run by nuns.
Layland brings to life the stunning world of Kimbria through four stories written for children. Tiyo and Bright Star are written in the style of a picture book with a couple of paragraphs on a page at a time and paired with vibrant illustrations. The illustrations have darker hues and scenic backgrounds, often with either animals or people as a focal point. The beauty of Kimbria is stunningly portrayed through the illustrations, with several even showing off the more magical qualities. The writing is kept simple and descriptive with both the animal characters breaking the fourth wall and speaking directly to readers, creating a personal conversation where the animals tell about their lives and adventures while also teaching and asking questions. While Tiyo shares his adventure about saving someone from a cave, he also teaches about deserts and caves, even adding advice such as never venturing into a cave alone. Bright Star's story takes on a similar style with Bright Star teaching about horses and herds while exploring daily life in Kimbria. Both of these animals have several animal friends that are introduced, but the focus is primarily on the bond with the human characters whom the animals assist in daily chores and situations. Tiyo herds sheep and goats while Bright Star and the other ponies teach kids how to ride.
In a Land Far Away is a poem with a lovely lyrical quality and rhyme scheme paired with illustrations. The poem weaves in the three stories in the collection by mentioning the main characters as the narrator dreams about spending an ideal day with friends at the beach. The collection ends with Keri and Kalina, which is written in a prose format with illustrations used as headers for chapters. The story explores the daily life of two little girls whose lives, though touched by sadness, are happy and almost idealistic as both girls are living life to the fullest, playing, doing chores, and spending time with loved ones. A personal arc for Kalina is explored as she has a chance to remain with her grandparents instead of returning to the school, so she has a choice to make about which path to take. Aleksandra Layland weaves through time as she explores the lives of these characters from significant moments to far off life milestones. The Ansgar Kids Treasury has wonder-filled adventures perfect for children and parents to enjoy the beauty of this world and the captivating characters.