Martínez reveals the hidden secrets of the legendary Mexican jumping beans in her picture-book debut.
As the title asserts, the jumping bean is “not a bean” but the seed pod of a desert plant known as the yerba de la flecha, which hides a secret stowaway. A female moth has laid her eggs near the seed pods of the yerba plant, and when they hatch, the caterpillars crawl inside, using the seed pod for protection and sustenance before pupating and emerging as adult moths. As a seed-encased caterpillar jumps around the desert floor seeking shelter and safety, readers count along in Spanish while learning vocabulary related to the desert ecosystem: cascabeles (rattlesnakes) and arroyos (streams), for example. González’s bright, friendly illustrations depict a vibrant desert teeming with life—far from the desolation often associated with its dry climate. “Siete amigos” also join the proceedings, depicted in varying shades of tan and peach, appearing to represent some of the diversity in skin tone among Mesoamerican peoples. Much like the seed pods’ concealed cargo, this informational picture book packs plenty of facts and learning moments into a thoroughly entertaining package.
Engaging and fun, as all learning should be. (glossary, author’s note) (Informational picture book. 4-8)