Because Charlesbridge has two new children’s picture books about moths coming out tomorrow (November 5, 2019), we decided to celebrate with a series of posts about moths and butterflies this week.

Today we are going to highlight Not a Bean by Claudia Guadalupe Martínez and illustrated by Laura Gonzalez for Nonfiction Monday. You’ll learn about the second book on Friday.

What does a book called Not a Bean have to do with moths? It might be clearer when you find out the bean in question is a Mexican jumping bean. Still not clear? The Mexican jumping bean moves around because there is a tiny larva (caterpillar) inside that eventually emerges as a moth.

Claudia Guadalupe Martínez starts the story with the plant that produces the “beans” (seedpods or capsules) and explains how the larva gets inside to feed on the seed. Next she shows how the hidden caterpillar behaves under natural conditions. When children find the “bean”, they use it for a simple racing game. After the bean stops jumping (because the caterpillar has pupated), the children abandon it. After a moth emerges, the life cycle continues.

Photograph of jumping bean moth by AuldAlliance at English Wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons., Public Domain, Link

Along the way, Martínez introduces young readers to a smattering a Spanish words including the numbers from one to ten.

There is a glossary of Spanish words in the back matter, as well as an author’s note with more details about the caterpillar’s biology. Only an entomologist would notice this, but she has used an older scientific name for the jumping bean moth in the back matter, Laspeyresia saltitans, rather than the revised name, Cydia deshaisiana.

Laura Gonzalez’s digital illustrations are lush and inviting, with exactly the right amount of playfulness.

Because Not a Bean is multifaceted, it could be used either for a lesson on Spanish language and Mexican culture, or for a science unit on insects (or both!) Plus, who isn’t intrigued by a “bean” that jumps? Investigate a copy today!

Related Science Activity Suggestions:

Seeds are packed with nutrients to support the plant embryo, so they are a good source of food. Are there any other insects that spend at least a portion of their life inside seeds? What are their life cycles? How do they behave? To find out, check:

You might want to look online for videos about Mexican jumping beans.  This one is a bit dry, but informative. Note:  the first moth shown sitting on a yellow flower is not a Mexican jumping bean moth.

Compare the Mexican jumping bean moth life cycle to that of other butterflies and moths using our growing list of children’s books  at Science Books for Kids.

Age Range: 3 – 7 years
Publisher: Charlesbridge (November 5, 2019)
ISBN-10: 1580898157
ISBN-13: 978-1580898157

Related posts for Moth Week:


Disclosure: The book was provided by the publisher for review purposes. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

Looking for more children’s nonfiction books? Try the Nonfiction Monday blog.