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Fly on the Wall by Remy Lai

Title: Fly on the Wall

Fly on the Wall Cover

Author: Remy Lai

Genre: Fiction

Publisher: Walker Books

Published: 15th September 2020

Format: Paperback

Pages: 336

Price: $19.99

Synopsis: In this moving and hilarious illustrated novel from the critically acclaimed author of Pie in the Sky, a twelve-year-old boy goes on a (forbidden) solo journey halfway around the world to prove his independence to his overprotective family.

Henry Khoo’s family treats him like a baby. He’s not allowed to go anywhere without his sister/chaperone/bodyguard. His (former) best friend knows to expect his family’s mafia-style interrogation when Henry’s actually allowed to hang out at her house. And he definitely CAN’T take a journey halfway around the world all by himself! But that’s exactly his plan. After his family’s annual trip to visit his father in Singapore is cancelled, Henry decides he doesn’t want to be cooped up at home with his overprotective family and BFF turned NRFF (Not Really Friend Forever). Plus, he’s hiding a your-life-is-over-if-you’re-caught secret: he’s the creator of an anonymous gossip cartoon, and he’s on the verge of getting caught. Determined to prove his independence and avoid punishment for his crimes, Henry embarks on the greatest adventure ever . . . hoping it won’t turn into the greatest disaster ever. Remy Lai takes readers on an adventure filled with humour, heart, and hijinks that’s a sure bet for fans of Jerry Craft, Terri Libenson, and Shannon Hale!

  • Remy Lai takes readers on an adventure filled with humour, heart, and hijinks that’s a sure bet for fans of Jerry Craft, Terri Libenson, and Shannon Hale!
  • A powerful blend of words and images, this is storytelling at its very best. And perfect for readers who find illustrations an important extension to meaning.


Most novels or chapter books for readers aged eight and over fall firmly into two categories: prose, or graphic. Often chapter books for younger readers and newly independent readers are illustrated, and lately, some middle grade novels have had illustrations interspersed with the text, delightfully enhancing the story. Remy Lai’s Fly on the Wall is somewhat different. It is a graphic novel/prose novel hybrid, where comic strips are interspersed with the prose to enhance and build on the story.

Henry Khoo is twelve, and he is never allowed to do anything without his mother, Popo, or sister Jei hovering over him. Henry is having a tough time at school, and has been distant from Pheebs, his friend. When he finds out his family holiday to visit his father in Singapore is cancelled, Henry comes up with a nifty plan to go on his own: something he’d never be allowed to do! He’s also running away because he doesn’t want his Big Secret to be discovered: he’s the author of the anonymous online comic upsetting people at school.

Soon, Henry’s journey becomes a secret mission that turns into a quest for friendship as well as independence and finding out your own strengths in life.

Remy was interviewed about her latest book in the #OwnVoices Episode of One More Page, interviewed by co-host Liz Leddon. Remy talks about how her own reading journey inspired the format of Fly on the Wall and her other book, Pie in the Sky. Both also have elements of her own childhood experiences in them, as well as themes of family, friendship and the power of being yourself – universal themes told exquisitely through a diverse cast of characters.

Henry straddles two worlds: being Australian, and fitting in at school, and his Singaporean and Chinese heritage at home with his family. Remy has taken both worlds, and how Henry responds to both, and created a story with heart. Every kid will have conflicts at school and family, and Henry is the perfect vehicle to reflect the universality of these experiences, as well as his individual experiences within his culture and family, opening a new world that some kids may not have experienced.

Diverse voices like Remy’s contribute powerful and important stories to the literary world. It not only provides a unique format for readers to explore but gives Asian kids a chance to see themselves represented in books and allows other readers to experience the world through the eyes of someone different, and from a culture they might not know about. It is a powerful and funny story about being a kid, and the challenges that come with it. A wonderful #OwnVoices story that all will enjoy.

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