Fly on the Wall

Holt. May 2020. 336p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781250314116.
Gr 4-7–Henry Khoo is tired of being babied by his family and invisible at school. Trying to declare independence from both, he started the infamous “Fly on the Wall” blog, which spreads gossip about his schoolmates, and is currently on his way to the airport for an unauthorized trip from Perth, Australia, (where he lives with his helicoptering mom, sister, and grandmother), to Singapore for a surprise visit to his dad. On the way, he must deal with a former best friend, a lurking nemesis, a seatmate who could double as an encyclopedia, and an online comment from the unknown “Frog in the Well,” threatening that Frog is going to out Henry to Principal Trang as the creator of the notorious blog. Near-misses and laugh-out-loud moments abound in this novel, which will endear it to readers who like “Big Nate” and “Wimpy Kid,” but Henry’s character development in this illustrated novel leaves Greg Heffley in the dust.
VERDICT Henry’s hero journey is replete with pitfalls and moments of self awareness, both of which lead him to a better understanding of why he does what he does (he’s lonely) and why his family is so overprotective (they love him). Any kid who recognizes that they have weaknesses will identify with and cheer for Henry. Highly recommended for libraries that serve tweens.

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