The illustration shows Samantha Byrd in front of a crystal ball as Clarissa's hands are seen.
Samantha "Fly Away" Byrd is an unnaturally tall and constantly clumsy twelve-year-old girl. She repeatedly makes a fool of herself on the basketball team at school and is always making mistakes and getting into accidents. Thus, she is constantly being harassed by the popular girls in her school, Judith Bellwood and Anna Frost. Samantha stays after school to practice for the basketball team.
One rainy afternoon after practice, Samantha happens to come upon an old woman named Clarissa who can't find her way home. Samantha helps the old woman and is rewarded with three wishes. Samantha is skeptical, but decides to humor Clarissa by wishing that she were the strongest basketball player on her school team. The next day, during a basketball game, Samantha remains clumsy and untalented. But somehow all the other girls, including Judith and Anna, lose their strength and fall mysteriously ill. Samantha realizes this is her wish come true, though not as she had wanted. She would have rather become a stronger, faster player. All that has happened is that the other players are weaker. Samantha visits Judith, who is delirious with the sickness and accuses Samantha of witchcraft. Samantha gets angry and inadvertently makes her second wish: that Judith would just disappear.
When Samantha wakes up the next morning, she finds that she is the only person left in supposedly the entire world. There is no one at home or school or on the street. After some aimless wandering, Samantha meets up with Clarissa. Clarissa apologizes for the wish, stating that she is not skilled in magic and could not make Judith disappear without making everyone else disappear. Clarissa offers to cancel the second wish and give Samantha a third wish... if Samantha can make a clear wish. Samantha wishes that everything is back to the way it was, except that Judith becomes Samantha's friend.
This wish is then granted and Judith does indeed become Samantha's friend. But Samantha soon finds that Judith has become pathologically obsessed with Samantha - dressing like her, wearing her hair like her, pleading to wait on her, and constantly praising her. Samantha tries to get away from Judith and ends up crashing her bike in front of Clarissa. Clarissa, feeling sorry that Samantha is not happy with her final wish, grants Samantha a fourth wish. Samantha wishes that she never met Clarissa and that Judith was the one who met Clarissa instead. The wish is granted and Judith becomes Clarissa's friend. As Samantha walks away, she overhears Judith yelling, "Fly away, Byrd!" and Samantha, now a black crow, does just that and begins her new life away from being bullied and harassed.
Cover Art Gallery
- Troy Steele rated this as the best Goosebumps book and praised it highly which is something Troy rarely does with Goosebumps books.
- This and Stay Out of the Basement are the only books to different covers in their 2000's reprint.
- According to an interview with Goosebumps artist Tim Jacobus, Tim says that he did not create the original cover for Be Careful What You Wish For...; Tim did create the cover for the first reprint.