Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Where's Wally (Waldo)?

Where's Wally? (titled Where's Waldo? in the United States and Canada, Onde está o Wally? in Portugal, Où est Charlie? in France and Quebec, Find Holger in Denmark, Hvar er Valli? in Iceland, Look for Wally in Japan, Wo ist Walter? in Germany, ¿Dónde está Wally? in Spain, Dov'è Wally? in Italian and Где Уолли? in Russian) is a series of children's books created by the British illustrator Martin Handford. The goal is to find a certain man, Wally, in a busy picture full of people. Wally dresses in a red and white striped shirt and shellfish hat, carries a wooden walking stick, and wears glasses. He is always losing things, including books, camping equipment and even his shoes, and readers are invited to spot these items in the illustrations as well.

The books consist of a series of complex full-page illustrated pictures of hundreds of tiny people doing various things. The purpose is to find Waldo among the group, which could be difficult as he is always well hidden.

For the initial UK release of Martin Handford's book in 1987, he titled the character "Wally". The "Where's Waldo" trademark was adapted for 28 countries. In addition to language translation, each franchise gave a new name and personality to the character. He became Charlie in France, Walter in Germany, Holger in Denmark, Valli in Iceland, Willy in Norway and Hetti in Sri Lanka & Goa. Waldo can also be found in Japan. In Israel, Wally got renamed as Effy, and was a huge success at the time of its release. However the most successful of the franchises, even surpassing the original "Wally" brand, was the North American adaptation, "Where's Waldo?"

Where as the early Waldo books were identical to the simultaneous Wally releases - except for the character's name - merchandising and spin-off productions expanded the Waldo franchise and character. Although Waldo and Wally are identical in appearance, their characters and personalities developed differently - Waldo became a hip and tech-savvy American world traveler, while Wally became intellectual and somewhat goofy.

Wally became a pop-culture sensation in the early 1990s. Aside from the adaptations of Handford's books, the US franchise grew to include licensing of Waldo for video games, spin-off books, magazines, dolls, toys and a Waldo television series. Many of the Waldo products were later reworked and translated for other national markets - including turning "Waldo"-created productions into "Wally".

Willy (Waldo) Fans

Although Wally is the name used in Handford's home country, and was the first title used, Handford and his publisher refer to the character and franchise in many press releases and interviews as "Waldo." In the publishing world the "Wally" brand has become inferior, dwarfed by merchandising and huge success of "Waldo." And although the wordplay was lost on audiences outside North America, the name of the intrepid traveler's nemesis was even derived by Handford from spelling "Waldo" backwards to create Odlaw.

On January 22, 2007, the "Where's Wally" franchise - and thus "Where's Waldo" as well - was bought by the UK-based children's company Entertainment Rights.

The first two books

Where's Wally? (US title: "Where's Waldo?") (1987)

Where's Waldo? is the title of the first Waldo book. Released in 1987, the book was the result of more than two-years of detailed work by illustrator Martin Handford.

Where's Waldo? introduces readers to Waldo, a distinctively dressed man, as he sets off on "a world-wide hike". Waldo travels to everyday places – such as the beach, the ski slops and the zoo. The book features 12 detailed 2-page illustrated spreads of the different locations. Somewhere amid the crowded scene is Waldo and readers are asked to scour the detailed illustrations to locate the lost traveler. Each scene is accompanied by a postcard to the reader from Waldo, who introduces the scene and comments on his travels.

Waldo sets out on his journey equipped with 12 items to help his on his travels. He carries a walking stick, kettle, mallet, cup, backpack, sleeping bag, binoculars, camera, snorkel, belt, bag and shovel. As Waldo journeys from location to location he loses one of these item, and asks the reader to locate the object left behind in each scene as well.

The evolution of Willy (Waldo)

At the end of the book there is a collection of check-lists of other things to find in each spread. Readers are asked to go back to the beginning and re-explore each scene locating other objects, gags and people in each picture.

Other editions

Where's Waldo? was re-released in 1997 in an updated "special edition" version to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the inital publication. The special edition relocated Waldo in each scene, updated various items and inserted new characters to spot – including Woof, Wenda, Wizard Whitebeard, Odlaw and the Waldo Watchers. This version has since become the standard 2nd edition version – replacing the original first edition in book stores and subsequent releases.

The book’s original release was in 12.5 x 10.1 inch hardback book. Since the initial release there have been subsequent paperback editions (12.2 x 9.7), "big book" editions (16.1 x 13) and "mini" editions (6 x 4.6) which came with a special magnify glass.

The "On The Beach" scene was re-released as a poster in The Magnificent Poster Book!. New characters, such as Wenda and Wizard Whitbeard, were inserted into the image for the poster along with other minor changes to scene.


In the early part of the 1980s Martin Handford was working as a freelance illustrator, specializing in drawing crowd scenes. After seeing some of Handford's artwork, David Bennett, a business associate and an art director at Walker Books in England, contacted the artist about developing a children's book showcasing his singular talent. It was only then that the character Waldo was conceived. Waldo was created to provide a link between each crowd scene and provide a focus and purpose for the book. Handford explained in a 1990 interview that "a book full of crowd scenes has no central theme, but adding a wacky character for the reader to look for adds a purpose to each page. That's who Waldo is - an afterthought."

Handford first began working on the book in 1985. Handford illustrated each the 12 scenes for the book - working at time for more than eight weeks to create just one of the two-page Waldo spreads. David Lloyd, a Walker Books editor, helped Handford polish the minimal, yet nessesary, text found in the postcards throughout the book. Handford insists there is no science behind where Waldo was hidden in each page. He says that as he would work his way through a picture, and simply add Waldo when he came to what he felt was "a good place to include him".
When Handford first designed his leading man, he named him Wally - based on a British slang term for a somewhat spacey person. However the American publishers of the books felt the name would not resonate with the North American readers; so when the book was finally published worldwide in 1987, the character was renamed Waldo (however the "Wally" title was retained for the UK markets).

Despite being "an afterthought" to tie Handford's illustrations together, the public responded to the character of Waldo. Handford stated "as it turns out, the fans were more interested in the character than in the crowd scenes." The success of the book and character led to more than 7 subsequent Waldo book by Handford - along with numerous additional publications, an animated television show, an internationally syndicated comic strip and countless other merchandise and spin-off productions.

After two years of development, the book was finally released in September 1987. However Handford did not sit on his laurels after the book hit stores. A follow-up book, Find Waldo Now, was released less than a year later in September 1988.


* In Town
* On the Beach
* Ski Slopes
* Camp Site
* The Railway Station
* Airport
* Sports Stadium
* Museum
* At Sea
* Safari Park
* Department Store
* Fairground


* Where's Wally?" was the first Wally book and the first appearance of the character Wally.
* In each scene Wally loses an item that the reader is asked to find. These objects include his walking stick, kettle, mallet, cup, backpack, sleeping bag, binoculars, camera, snorkel, belt, bag and shovel.
* "The Railway Station" page was retitled "The Train Station" in the special edition.
* The "secret person" hidden in all the scenes in this book (in the "special edition" only) is a dark skinned man, with short black hair, wearing a white shirt and red tie.

Awards and honors

Where's Waldo? spent more than 93 weeks in the number one spot on the New York Times Best Sellers List.


* The Arizona Young Readers' Award Winner - 1991
* Bilby Awards Winner - 1992
* Bilby Awards Winner - 2001

Controversies and criticisms

Where's Waldo was banned from many librarys in the 1990s, and ranks #88 on the American Library Association's list of "100 Most Frequently Banned Books". The book was challenged due to a partially exposed breast found in the beach scene of the book. Due to the controversy the woman was covered up in the 1997 special edition release.

The original risqué image found in the 1987 book.

The censored image from the 1997 "special edition".

Author: Martin Handford
Illustrator: Martin Handford
Published: September 1987
Publisher: Little Brown & Co
Pages: 32
ISBN: 0316342939

Language: Spanish
Type: PDF


Where's Wally Now? (US title: "Find Waldo Now", renamed "Where's Waldo Now?" later) (1988)

Find Waldo Now was the second Wally book. It was first published in 1988. In the book Waldo travels through time as he visits many different locations and events. He also loses a book on each page, which the reader has to find.

The book was re-released in October 1997 under the title Where's Waldo Now?. In this special edition, Waldo was moved in each picture and additional characters were added for the reader to find (Woof, Wizard Whitebeard, Wenda, Odlaw, the Waldo Watchers and others).


* The Stone Age
* The Riddle of the Pyramids
* Fun and Games in Ancient Rome
* On Tour with the Vikings
* The End of the Crusades
* Once Upon a Saturday Morning
* The Last Days of the Aztecs
* Trouble in Old Japan
* Being a Pirate
* Having a Ball in Gaye Paree
* The Gold Rush
* The Future


* In each scene Waldo loses another book. Each is a different color; they are, respectively, black, white, pink, blue, green, brown, orange, red, grey, light-blue and purple.

* The book features a scene titled "Being a Pirate"; Waldo would rejoin pirates in the scene "Among the Pirates" found in The Magnificent Poster Book (artwork re-released in The Great Picture Hunt as "Pirate Panorama").

* The "secret person" hidden in all the scenes in this book (in the "special edition" only) is a blonde, curly haired woman, with a blue top.

Author: Martin Handford
Illustrator: Martin Handford
Published: September 1988
Publisher: Little Brown & Co
Pages: 26
ISBN: 0763603082 (special edition)

Language: Spanish
Type: JPG



Anonymous said...

Great reviews and fun to read - thanks. I'm always on the hunt for great children's books and have recently discovered Bayard and their series of StoryBoxBooks, AdventureBoxBooks and DiscoveryBoxBooks (which is a special Olympic edition) They have work by acclaimed children's books illustrator Helen Oxenbury appearing in the Storybox series for September. In addition to this, they also have some great activities for rainy days: http://www.storyboxbooks.com/potatoprinting.php, http://www.adventureboxbooks.com/macaroni-picture-frames.php, http://www.discoveryboxbooks.com/skittles.php Enjoy!

Saikoro said...

Waaaaly!!! this is nostalgic...
cool man congratulations to hi-fi always bringing that kind ofstuff!!!

HI-FI a go-go said...

You're welcome Book. Thanks for your comment. I hope you enjoy this blog and check my future posts. I start a job in a children's school and i apreciate this stuff in advance. Helen Oxenbury is a very nice professional, and good activities, in sure...
Very good links!

Thanks for your support my partner. I apreciate all your comments.

Anonymous said...

censored image XD.. come on!

Loserificus said...

ive never read the books...

Wally can be short for Waldo too, ryt? Kinda like a nickname or sumthing like that. Basically that's just what I thought

HI-FI a go-go said...

The name of the character is according to the country:

- Titled Waldo in the United States and Canada.

- Wally in Portugal, Brazil, France, Quebec, Japan, Spain and Italy.

- Holger in Denmark.

- Valli in Iceland.

- Walter in Germany.


HI-FI a go-go

Anonymous said...

Americans really have issues with boobs and nipples!!! Yes, I said it: NIPPLE!
And again: nipple, nipple, nipple...

Australia LOVES wally said...

it is also Wally in Australia and we LOVE him!

Anonymous said...

were is people being knoked down by a hammer in sports stadium?

Anonymous said...

It shall always be ze WALLY to us!
Wally, a go-go.

Anonymous said...

I love boobs!!!!!!

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