Not a Bean

Charlesbridge. Nov. 2019. 32p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781580898157.
PreS-Gr 2–In the desert of Mexico, something special is happening inside of a yerba de la flecha plant. A caterpillar larva burrows its way into the seedpod of the shrub, where it grows by drinking the water that seeps into it. When the seedpod falls to the ground, the caterpillar is tucked inside, jumping when necessary to escape the heat of the desert or get to safety. A group of children come upon the “jumping bean” and add it to their game, hoping it will “jump” to a specific spot as they observe it. Soon, though, the bean goes still to become something entirely new. This impeccably designed book tells the story of the Mexican jumping bean. Though not a bean at all, this plant has nonetheless made a memorable name for itself through its unusual nature. Thoughtful, detailed illustrations transport readers through the Mexican desert as the caterpillar completes its journey. The text introduces Spanish words while counting from one to 10 throughout the story.
VERDICT This is an excellent read-aloud for elementary school children, especially those who are looking for a gentle introduction to the Spanish language and some accompanying cultural connections. Fans of Roseanne Greenfield Thong’s Green Is a Chili Pepper will appreciate the design similarities.

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