Fly on the Wall

Book review by
Amanda Nojadera, Common Sense Media
Fly on the Wall Book Poster Image
Funny graphic novel hybrid about friendship, communication.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Kids will learn about Chinese wuxia TV dramas and how to navigate airports. There are also Mandarin and Malay words and phrases included which are translated.

Positive Messages

Friendship, family, and communication are important themes. Own up to your mistakes and apologize for your actions. Don't be afraid to be yourself and remember to try new things.

Positive Role Models

Although Henry lies, almost shoplifts, and creates an anonymous online blog that spread a lot of mean gossip and rumors, he eventually learns how much he hurt other people and apologizes for his actions. Henry might think his family is overprotective, but it's how they show their love for him and that they care about him. Nor acts as Henry's Shifu and teaches him important lessons about friendship. Henry's family is Chinese, and they speak English and Mandarin. Phoebe has two dads.

Violence

Henry creates an anonymous online blog that spreads a lot of mean gossip and rumors about his fellow classmates and some of the teachers at his school. Henry's friend calls him a "helipad" and "The Odd Bunch" behind his back.

Sex

Henry's sister is seen holding hands with a boy.

Language

Mild insults include "jerk," "stinky butt," "deep doo-doo," "turd," "butt face," "heck," "darn it," as well as the poop emoji.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Remy Lai's Fly on the Wall is a funny and fast-paced graphic novel hybrid about 12-year-old Henry Khoo's forbidden solo adventure to Singapore to prove to his overprotective family that he isn't a baby. Although Henry lies and creates an anonymous blog to spread gossip and mean rumors online, he eventually learns important lessons about friendship and communication before apologizing for his actions. Mild insults include "jerk," "stinky butt," "deep doo-doo," "turd," "butt face," as well as the poop emoji. Henry's family is Chinese, and they speak English and Mandarin. The Mandarin and Malay words and phrases included in the book are translated.

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What's the story?

Twelve-year-old Henry Khoo is determined to prove he's no longer a baby. When Henry's annual trip to Singapore is canceled, he creates a super-secret mission to avoid staying at home with his overprotective family. Little do they know that Henry's plan includes flying to Singapore by himself! But that's not the only thing Henry's been hiding: He's the creator of FLY ON THE WALL, an anonymous blog that's been spreading gossip and rumors at school, and someone's about to reveal his secret! Will Henry make it to Singapore without getting caught?

Is it any good?

Remy Lai's funny and fast-paced graphic novel thoughtfully explores middle school friendships and helicopter parenting. Readers will love Henry's action packed-adventure and the wise characters he meets along his journey. Like Pie in the Sky, Lai seamlessly integrates charming illustrations into the story. There are many hilarious visuals of Henry's overprotective family members as helicopters before Henry realizes that's how his family shows their love and affection for him. And although he thinks he's an outsider, that doesn't excuse his decision to start lying to his family or spreading rumors about his teachers and classmates. But as Henry slowly reveals why he began Fly on the Wall and sees that he's been hurting people, readers will learn important lessons about communication and apologizing for your mistakes.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the graphic novel format. How is it effective in telling the story of Fly on the Wall?

  • Do you ever feel different or left out? When? Do you think others in your class or school feel that way? What can you do to help them feel included? How have new friends come into your life? How have you helped build new friendships?

  • How do the characters demonstrate communication? Why is this an important character strength?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love graphic novels and middle-school stories

Themes & Topics

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