Cover Image: Fly on the Wall

Fly on the Wall

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Member Reviews

It's not the most realistic book, but Fly on the Wall sure is fun and innovative! Lai is great at dealing with sensitive or heavy topics while incorporating her creative illustrations and making it kid-friendly. I really appreciate how the "overprotective family" trope resolves itself in the end, and I also love how Henry finds his sense of self over the course of the novel.
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Fans of Lai’s previous book, Pie in the Sky, will adore Fly on the Wall and it’s main character Henry Koo. The story tackles universal MG themes of finding your place in the world, growing up, and familial issues well. The mixed format of illustrations and text add to the story and will keep readers engaged. I highly recommend this wonderful book!
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After falling out with his best and only friend, Henry Koo is on a journey to make big changes. He decides that the best way to get his family to stop treating him as a baby, the root of all his problems, is to take a trip halfway around the world secretly and all by himself… if only the hunt for the anonymous school gossip cartoonist didn’t keep haunting him all along the way. Full of hilarious pitfalls, this part prose and part comics is a fun but thoughtful story.

This was a really enjoyable read, even if sometimes I cringed with second-hand embarrassment. Even with the relationship strain, it is great to see such a supportive family, an interesting multicultural story, and to see ideas of differing perspectives explored. I love that this book will challenge children to reevaluate if, even if they are the hero of their own story, they are maybe the villain in someone else’s. Fans of ‘Wimpy Kid’, ‘Smile’ and ‘Stargazing’ will love ‘Fly on the Wall’!
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Thank you to Netgalley for the e-Arc in exchange for my honest review.

My students have loved Pie in the Sky, so I was eager to read Fly on the Wall. Many students will be able to relate to Henry having overbearing parents. I enjoyed following Henry's journey to finding his own independence, but also realizing the motivations behind his family's actions. Ultimately this is a story of family and the love that binds family together.
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Henry Khoo is tired of his family being overprotective. They think he is a baby and can't be trusted to do anything on his own. Well, Henry is sick of it. He's as invisible as a fly on the wall at school, and plans to do something about it. After his family cancels plans to see his father in Shanghai, Henry makes plans of his own to make the trip from Australia to his dad's on his own. Will he chicken out and cry like he always does? Or can he prove to himself and his family that he's trustworthy and independent? 

This was an illustrated chapter book, which I know kids love! It did have some pretty good moments of humor and I like how it captured Henry's decision to be strong and independent. It had a good message about accepting yourself.
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Henry lives with his grandmother, mother and sister in Perth, Australia. His dad lives in Signapore - and usually on all school breaks they go to visit him. This year, however it is cancelled and Henry is determined to go on his own. For a 12 year old with a family that stills treats him like a baby, it is going to be quite an adventure to get to a different country before they find out! 

Remy Lai has done it again! After reading Pie in the Sky I swore I would read anything this author put out. Her mixed style of illustrations, epistolary and writing make this book such a fun read.
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My students that fell in love with Remy Lai's previous book, Pie, are in for a treat with her newest book. 

Fly on the Wall  introduces readers to Henry Khoo. Tired of his overprotective family and feeling invisible at school, Henry starts the Fly on the Wall cartoon blog, which spreads rumors about his classmates. When his trip to visit his father is canceled, Henry take the opportunity to prove to his family that he isn't a baby. With the help of his friend Phoebe, he leaves Australia and flies to see his father in Singapore. However along the way he runs into all sorts of trouble, especially when a classmate appears on the same flight. 

Told in illustrations and text, this book tackles the clash of cultural expectations and fitting in. It is an easier read and seems young for MG. I would recommend it for Elementary 4th-5th and maybe as a independent book for 6th graders. 

Thank you NetGalley and Henry Holt & Company for an E-ARC.
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Oh Henry! What a cutie and a solid MC. He wants independence but his family shows their love by smothering and worrying about him. 

This text has tons of great features that would be fun to work through/ introduce with students. Lots of writing in Mandarin Chinese (YAY I LOVED LOVED THIS!!) And references fo wuxias and text convos and Henry’s comics as well. So many pieces this is quite a feat to create and complete. Also there are relatable family dynamics and friend navigations for any kid(human).  Remy Lai is really bringing it with authentic nuanced boy voices that have feelings and concerns and doubts (Pie in the Sky, too). I’m here for it! I will note this one is by far my favorite between the two that I’ve read though. It packs in more fun/ stronger overall. 

I should note that there were spots that felt like they could’ve been edited a little more for clarity for me (because of the many moving pieces) especially when I consider what age group this is going to be for.. BUT. This is unlike other books out there.. the most similar I’ve read is Alvin Ho series and they aren’t the same. 

I would love to have this in my classroom for the breadth of conversations I could have with it alone. 4+ stars for that.

For overall reading experience as me 3.5

But get it for your kiddos / classrooms. 

Thanks to the publishers and Netgalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Remy Lai did not disappoint with Fly on the Wall. For any child or adult who has ever felt "meh" and wasn't quite sure where they fit in, this book is for you. This book was perfect for kids who have helicopter parents and kids who don't. I love the variety of family structures represented in the book as well as the diversity of children. 
Henry Khoo desperately wants to prove himself to his family, his friends and even his not anymore friends. He has been trying to figure out where he fits at school and how he can relate to his family in a more grown-up way. He comes up with the biggest adventure everrrrrr to show everyone what he's really made of. It is a wonderful coming of age, figuring out who you really are story.
Five stars from me!
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Relatable, imperfect characters, humor, and a heartfelt story. What a great combo for middle grade readers! Will certainly purchase for my elementary library.
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I love the hybrid style of this book. Part chapter book and part comic make the story of Henry Khoo come alive.
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Remy Lai’s newest book does not disappoint. A humorous look at an overprotected 12 year-old boy who is on a mission to prove his independence, and learns a lot about himself along the way. Tweens will love this quick-witted story about growing up and learning to take care of yourself. Much like Pie in the Sky, readers will quickly fall in love with the main characters, and find Henry’s story to be quite endearing.
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I really went back and forth with this book. The whole helicopter family theme was taken to the extreme and you really felt annoyed by them as you read. So annoyed that I wanted to put the book down and not have to deal with them. But that makes the reader really understand how Henry must feel and why he makes the decision to go on his own wuxia drama-like journey to prove he is not a baby anymore and gain some independence.

Henry’s low self esteem really comes across and readers will feel bad for him at first, then root for him as he makes realizations that not everyone acts they way they do for one reason only. 

Overall, the story felt a bit jumpy and certain themes were overdone. I don’t know that I would purchase this book for our collection, but I would recommend it to certain patrons if we could get it through consortial sharing.
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FLy on the Wall is about Henry, a complex character dealing with many emotions.  Like many other kids his age, Henry is tired of the way he is being treated by his family (feels babied) and by his classmates (feels invisible).  He wrestles through his emotions in this book by going on an adventure to see his dad in a foreign country.  Readers will like the various ways the story is told and the illustrations.  Readers will be able to connect to Henry through the lessons he learns about life and himself.  

Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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I received an ARC of Fly on the Wall through NetGalley.

Henry has a helicopter family.  Everyone hovers over him and he doesn't have any room to make decisions, speak up, or be himself (if he could ever have some space to figure that out).  Everyone always tells him what to do and how to do it until he plans the revenge of a lifetime.  Henry plans to fly to Singapore to visit his father.  Alone. 

While you have to suspend reality to make some of the scenarios possible, what reads as total truth is Henry's underlying desire to have a friend.  A real one.  He had one once, but she turned against him.  When he turned his loneliness and anger into a webcomic that pokes fun of his classmates, he became an undercover villain and bully.  If he is ever discovered, he won't ever have a friend again.  

Now, can he pull off his giant international adventure to prove that he is not a baby and that Henry Khoo has thoughts and ideas of his own?   Can he maintain his secret authorship?  If not, he might lose any chance of having a friend.  Ever.
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Lai’s work in Pie in the Sky touched upon depression and grief. In Fly in the Wall, she switches over to finding the balance of being too protected vs. isolated (looking at you, the opposite of helicopter parents with your eyes on a device never once looking at your kid 💔).

The book juggles so much without once dropping a thread in the story and has just the right touch of humor to have you laughing out loud at, oddly, just the right times. (Official Babies scheme, the one that asks, “what’s the meaning of life?”) 

High praise for the flotsam spread, wow. I dare you to find a kid in school who does not understand what Lai is talking about, or an adult at work for that matter. (Is anyone seeing a rise of attempts to de-stigmatize mental health, particularly in graphic novels of late?)

Peppering the book with Chinese = genius!! I don’t read it but it got me talking with mom to help with translations. And I know of cousins should would’ve gobbled up a hybrid like this while torturously trying to get through Chinese school.

And please, please say there’s a story for Nor possibly in the future, even a short one? Or a world in which Jingwen, Henry and Nor all somehow meet....

Don’t stop what you were meant to do Ms. Lai. Your work is fantastic.
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Once again, Remy Lai captures the angst of middle school with an incredibly deft hand. While the adult/parent/teacher in my thought, "Oh, it couldn't possibly be that bad." The once junior-high-aged girl in my jerked her head up and shouted, "Yes. It. Could!" And though the travel scenario would not probably have raced as far as it did in our society of airline security overkill, it was not so far-fetched as to tax the imagination. 

For all who feel invisible, who feel misunderstood, and who yearn to be heard - this is a wonderful read. An excellent priority purchase for middle schools.
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In Remy Lai's second book, twelve-year-old Henry runs away to fly to his dad in Singapore as a way to prove to his overprotective family that he is not a baby anymore; his trip is complicated not only by his family's hovering but also by Henry's haunting knowledge that he has hurt people in his cutting school web comic "Fly on the Wall"--and someone knows it's him! Readers are in for a breezy, light-hearted story full of fart jokes, Henry's constant setbacks (like tripping over a child on a leash or getting on the wrong flight), and the narrator's witticisms (Henry's grandma makes his sister call him because she "is allergic to learning how to text"). The book is fast-paced, set over the course of only one day, and many illustrations in the style of Diary of a Wimpy kid also move the story along. While the story is ultimately goofy, there is also subtly deeper content, including Henry's social loneliness and his fear that his dad doesn't like him. Henry describes his trip as a heroic disciple's journey like in one of his grandmother's Chinese tv dramas, which fleshes out a theme of self actualization. While not as poignant as Pie in the Sky, Fly on the Wall is more fun and more readable. Great for fans of the Wimpy Kid-style art, as well as any readers who want a good laugh. Ages 8-12.
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