Charlotte loves school, learning, and being with her friends, but combining the three doesn’t work for anyone.
A whispering Charlotte and her friend miss Miss Flora’s announcement about “show-and-share” and bring nothing special the next day. Etta can’t finish her book when Charlotte’s talking to her, and Max is in a similar boat with his math worksheet. Lily, Ben, and Charlotte all feel hungry after they talk right through lunchtime. The next day, Charlotte’s classmates shush her and insist on listening and learning. Miss Flora points out that the things Charlotte loves about school are things her friends love too, but they can’t enjoy them for all the butterfly’s chatter. This aha moment sparks a change. Cardoso’s illustrations depict the characters as anthropomorphized insects. Charlotte has deep purple skin and purple puffball pigtails on top of her head. While most of the bugs have skin tones that match their natural colorations, some have pale or brown coloring and hair in a range of human shades. The fact that most of the insects’ mouths are perpetually wide open is rather distracting—kids may wonder how they can listen and talk at the same time. Also unfortunate is the fact that the darkest-skinned child, who is also the one with Afro-styled hair, is represented as the problem.
The bugs’ world may distract readers from the tale’s didacticism, but the ones who need this message most are unlikely to learn it here; they’re busy talking. (Picture book. 3-7)