I was searching through some of my old blogposts and came across my photo of a slide Gary Metivier used in a presentation at the Children’s Literary Festival in 2016. I liked the concise way it framed the essence of plotting with five Cs:
“Create a Character readers care about, in a Conflict with stakes, making Choices, whose Consequences build to a Climax.” Cheryl B. Klein, author of The Magic Words: Writing Great Books for Children and Young Adults.
I thought of using this framework for a review when I was given a copy of Bee in Her Bonnet by Jannifer Powelson.
Bee in Her Bonnet is Powelson’s fifth book in the Nature Station Mystery series. The first chapter introduces the character of Kristen Matthews as the owner of the Nature Station, a natural resource education and event center. It’s a business that has grown over the first four books, as has Kristen’s reputation and talent for amateur sleuthing in her central Illinois hometown of Eklund.
There is nothing better for conflict than a murder discovered the day after a bridal shower was held at the Nature Station with a visit to its brand-new pollinator garden as one of the party activities. The stakes couldn’t be higher when the white-haired relative of the soon-to-be groom appears to have fallen victim to a severe reaction to a bee sting.
Kirsten’s choices are limited. She has questions to ask. Leads to track down. Because the nice old lady’s past harbored some not so nice secrets. But Kirsten has so much help streaming in from the many locals who have come to expect great things from her detective skills. The consequences of all that help and ego boosting praise just might compromise Kirsten’s ability to make the best decisions. Who’s telling the truth? Who’s holding out on her. What is she missing? The answers to these questions can mean life or death as she nears the climax of the action. Readers will want to know if they solved the mystery or not. I certainly didn’t. Jannifer Powelson has created a fine addition to her Nature Station Mystery series.
I was introduced to Jannifer Powelson’s Nature Station Mystery series when I was given a copy of Bee in Her Bonnet to review. This is Powelson’s fifth book in the series, so I was meeting her protagonist, Kristen Matthews, at a high point in her personal life; she is engaged and has a winter wedding in her future. Kristen’s business, the Nature Station, is doing well as a natural resource education and event center. In fact, as the action opens, it is summer, and she is hosting the bridal shower for Hope Johnson, co-worker and best friend. We are introduced to a lot of people: family, friends, citizens of small town Eklund; all have potential as either victim or villain. A visit to the Nature Station’s brand-new pollinator garden is turned into a bridal shower party activity.
The next day, Kristen and Hope are first on the scene when the white-haired relative of Hope’s soon-to-be groom appears to have fallen victim to a severe reaction to a bee sting. The stakes are high for Kristen, time is in short supply for her to find the murderer and save her best friend’s wedding day.
But Kristen’s reputation and talent for amateur sleuthing precedes her every move. She has questions to ask. Leads to track down. It seems the nice old lady’s past harbored some not so nice secrets. Kirsten has so much help and information streaming in from the many locals who have come to expect great things from her detective skills that it just might compromise her ability to make the best decisions. Nothing is easy. Who’s telling the truth? Who’s holding out on her, and why? What is she missing? The answers to these questions could mean life or death as the murderer prepares to strike again in an ending I did not see coming.
Friendship, family ties, and the chemistry of small town Eklund are key themes for this book. As is the author’s respect for native plants and prairies. Jannifer Powelson has created a fine addition to her Nature Station Mystery series.
Book reviews and star ratings are important gifts for authors. I always try to write something about the books I read and then post to Amazon and Goodreads. The more popular titles of well-established authors don’t need as much help as local, regional authors of small presses or the self-published. For those, I make an extra effort.