Where's Wally?

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Where's Wally?
Martin Handford with Wally, Wenda, Odlaw, Wizard Whitebeard and Woof
AuthorMartin Handford
CountryUnited Kingdom
GenreChildren's literature

UK: Walker Books

US: Little Brown & Co then Candlewick Press
Published1987 – present
Media typePrint (hardback & paperback)
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Where's Wally?
Martin Handford with Wally, Wenda, Odlaw, Wizard Whitebeard and Woof
AuthorMartin Handford
CountryUnited Kingdom
GenreChildren's literature

UK: Walker Books

US: Little Brown & Co then Candlewick Press
Published1987 – present
Media typePrint (hardback & paperback)

Where's Wally?, published in the United States and Canada as Where's Waldo?, is a series of children's books created by British illustrator Martin Handford. The books consist of a series of detailed double-page spread illustrations depicting dozens or more people doing a variety of amusing things at a given location. Readers are challenged to find a character named Wally hidden in the group. Wally's distinctive red-and-white-striped shirt, bobble hat, and glasses make him slightly easier to recognise, but many illustrations contain "red herrings" involving deceptive use of red-and-white striped objects. Later entries in the long-running book series added other targets for readers to find in each illustration.[1] The books have also inspired a TV show, comic strip and a series of video games.



In 1986, Handford was asked by his art director at Walker Books to draw a character with peculiar features so that his pictures of crowds had a focal point. After much thinking, he came up with the idea of "Wally", a world traveller and time travel aficionado who always dresses in red and white.[2] Sometimes it would take him up to eight weeks to draw a two-page sketch of the elusive "Wally" and the characters surrounding him.[3]

The first Where's Wally book was published on Friday 21 September 1987.[4] The Where's Wally? books were published in the UK by Walker Books and in the US under the title Where's Waldo? first by Little, Brown and Company before being taken on by Candlewick Press (Walker Books' American subsidiary publishing company). The first four titles were originally printed in Italy, but later reprinted in China.

The books became extremely popular and were localised for many different territories, with name changes for Wally in certain regions. The franchise also spawned other media in a more storyline-based form, including a TV series, a comic strip and a series of video games.


International editions

In translations of the franchise, Wally has often been given a name in the local language:



Primary books

There are currently seven primary Wally books. The books were released both in hard-cover (for the original books) and subsequently in paperback. Each contains around a dozen scenes with Wally hidden in them. Each book has additional hidden objects and/or characters hidden in each scene specific to that book. The books usually reserve telling the reader about some item(s) to find until the end of the book so that the reader will have to go through the book again. The books contain checklists for each scene of interesting things or people to find.

  1. Where's Wally? (US title: "Where's Waldo?") (1987)
  2. Where's Wally Now? (US title: "Find Waldo Now", renamed "Where's Waldo Now?" later) (1988)
  3. Where's Wally?: The Fantastic Journey (US title: "The Great Waldo Search") (1989)
  4. Where's Wally? In Hollywood (1993)
  5. Where's Wally? The Wonder Book (1997)
  6. Where's Wally? The Great Picture Hunt (2006)
  7. Where's Wally? The Incredible Paper Chase (2009)

There have been three rounds of revised editions. In 1993, to coincide with the publication of In Hollywood, the first three books were reprinted with Wenda, Woof and the Wally Watchers added to the original illustrations, and the books were numbered on the cover. A "pocket edition" of the first book was also published, in a tiny A6 format. Wally is even harder to spot when shrunk to this degree, and later printings included a free magnifying lens.

In 1997, to coincide with the publication of The Wonder Book, special "Tenth Anniversary Editions" of the first four books were published with a distinct silver border on their front covers, and added later-introduced characters and objects to look for in every scene, and also moved Wally to different locations from the original versions. These special editions appeared in both standard and "pocket" formats.

In 2007, for the 20th anniversary of the first book, the special editions of 1997 (and The Great Picture Hunt) were re-released with a new cover into paperback format. The silver borders on the books were removed and instead, the books were numbered in the top left-hand corner of the cover. Aside from the new numbering system, some of the front covers were also revised otherwise - for example, the 'NOW?' on the cover of Where's Wally Now? was given a 2D effect, but it was originally designed to look like a 3D shape.

Other books

In addition to the primary books, other books have also been published in the Wally franchise. The first alternate-format Wally book was the Ultimate Fun Book. In addition to standard Wally scenes, this paperback activity book featured other types of games and activities, as well as cardboard punch-outs and stickers. The Magnificent Poster Book, which was a large-format book of posters including five scenes from past books and six new scenes (later included in The Great Picture Hunt).

Several other "activity books" have also been published featuring art from the "Where's Wally" comic strip:

The first six activity books mentioned were reprinted in 2009 in a smaller size with different packaging.


1995Bumper Activity BookThe Wildly Wonderful Activity Book, The Simply Sensational Activity Book, The Really Remarkable Activity Book and The Completely Crazy Activity Books in one large book.
2000Boxed SetWhere's Wally?, Where's Wally Now?, The Ultimate Fun Book, The Truly Terrific Activity Book and The Absolutely Amazing Activity Book
2004The Completely Cool CollectionWhere's Wally?, Where's Wally Now?, The Fantastic Journey, In Hollywood and The Wonder Book special editions
2006The Mega Mini CollectionWhere's Wally?, Where's Wally Now?, The Fantastic Journey and In Hollywood mini special editions.
2007The Solid Gold CollectionWhere's Wally?, Where's Wally Now?, The Fantastic Journey, In Hollywood, The Wonder Book special editions and The Fabulous Flying Carpets Sticker Book.
2009The Ultimate Travel CollectionWhere's Wally?, Where's Wally Now?, The Fantastic Journey, In Hollywood and The Wonder Book special editions in one travel-sized book.
2009The Magnificent Mini Box SetWhere's Wally?, Where's Wally Now?, The Fantastic Journey, In Hollywood and The Wonder Book mini special editions with special Where's Wally? magnifying glass.
2011The Totally Essential Travel CollectionWhere's Wally?, Where's Wally Now?, The Fantastic Journey, In Hollywood, The Wonder Book, The Great Picture Hunt and The Incredible Paper Chases special editions in one travel-sized book.

Publication details


There was a series of geographical magazines made available for children in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Portugal, Poland, Brazil, France, Hungary, Malta, Russia and Ukraine, called Wally's World. In each issue Wally would travel to a different country or region of the world telling the reader interesting facts. This was published for 52 issues from January 1997 to January 1998, when Wally's History of the World began, focusing more on history than geography. The first issue was given away free with the last issue of Wally's World.

Television show

A 13-episode animated series, with Townsend Coleman as the voice of Wally, was produced by DiC and CBS in 1991 for the North American market using the "Waldo" name. The show was later translated for international markets – usually renaming the character to match the books of that country. The dialogue and theme song were recorded in alternative "Wally" versions, with the same voice cast of the original US production, in order to market the show in the UK. The distribution rights to the show are currently held by HIT Entertainment.[citation needed]


A film based on the "Where's Wally?" series of books has been pursued by various studios. Nickelodeon was the one of the studios to take an interest in the idea but when the regime at Paramount (Nickelodeon's parent company) changed, the project was cancelled. In June, 2009, it was announced that Universal Studios and Illumination Entertainment had acquired the rights to turn Where's Wally? into a live-action film.[5]

In November 2011, MGM and Classic Media announced that a live-action Where's Wally? film is in development.[6]

During the 2012 Super Bowl, Wally was featured in a MetLife commercial. As in the series, Wally was hard to find in the commercial.

Video games

A number of North American video games were developed using the US/Canada regional name "Waldo".

Comic strip

For several years in the early and mid 1990s, "Where's Wally" was turned into a Sunday newspaper comic/puzzle, distributed by King Features Syndicate. The comics were also released in book form in the US, using the regional name 'Waldo'.

Cereal boxes

In the early 1990s Quaker Life Cereal in the US carried various "Where's Wally" scenes on the back of the boxes along with collector's cards, toys and send-away prizes.

Real-life "Where's Wally?" phenomena

World record attempt

Men dressed as Wally for the event at Rutgers University

On Thursday 2 April 2009, 1,052 students, alumni, and members of the community at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA, captured the Guinness World Record for the largest gathering of people dressed as Wally. The event raised money for local public schools.

On Monday 31 May 2010, Great Yarmouth attempted to break this record, but fell short of 1,052 with only 930 fans.[7][8]

On Sunday 19 June 2011, the previous record was broken when 3,872 people dressed as Wally gathered in Merrion Square, Dublin, Ireland.[9]

During the summer of 2012, Soul Survivor UK was planning to break the record for the most "Wally's" in one place over three different weeks. These attempts were to take place at the Stafford Showground in Staffordshire and Bath and West Showground in Somerset.

Real-life recreation

On Saturday 12 September 2009 a re-creation took place in downtown Chicago. The re-creation featured all of the characters, Wally, Wanda, Wizard Whitebeard, Odlaw, & Woof, hiding throughout downtown Chicago and invited others to come and find them. In the British sitcom Miranda, Miranda and Stevie played "Where's Miranda", in which Miranda dressed up as Wally and stood in the middle of a shopping centre, with Stevie standing on the balcony trying to find her.[10][11]


  1. ^ Duckett, Jodi (26 November 1997). "Waldo's World". LA Times. http://articles.latimes.com/1997/nov/26/news/ls-57728. Retrieved 23 August 2010.
  2. ^ "Up Against the Waldo", by Cyndi Stivers, 14 December 1990, Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 8 Feb 2010.
  3. ^ "Interview with Martin Handford", Scholastic Book Club. Retrieved 7 Feb 2010.
  4. ^ [1]Walker Books. Retrieved 20 September 2012.
  5. ^ By (1 June 2009). "'Waldo' finds his way to the bigscreen – Entertainment News, Film News, Media". Variety. http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118004377.html?categoryid=13&cs=1&nid=2562. Retrieved 1 June 2009.
  6. ^ "MGM Acquires Film Rights To Where’s Waldo? Franchise, Eyes Live-Action Pic". MGM via Deadline. 7 November 2011. http://www.deadline.com/2011/11/mgm-acquires-film-rights-to-wheres-waldo-franchise-eyes-live-action-film/. Retrieved 7 November 2011.
  7. ^ "Where ISN'T Wally? 930 fans put on bobble hats and glasses to break world record". Daily Mail (London). 1 June 2010. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1283070/Where-ISNT-Wally-930-fans-bobble-hats-glasses-break-world-record.html?ito=feeds-newsxml.
  8. ^ Rutgers students set Where's Waldo record
  9. ^ Ingle, Róisín (20 June 2011). "Let me entertain you". The Irish Times. http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2011/0620/1224299219114.html.
  10. ^ "Where's Waldo? In Chicago! – on NBC Chicago". http://www.nbcchicago.com/around-town/events/Wheres-Waldo-In-Chicago-58065357.html.
  11. ^ "Play real-life Where's Waldo? downtown this Saturday – on A.V. Chicago Decider". http://chicago.decider.com/articles/play-reallife-wheres-waldo-downtown-this-saturday.

External links