Where's Wally? is a series to children's books by the British illustrator Martin Handford (called Where's Waldo? in the US). The first was published in 1987, and I collected the whole series when I was a child. At that time, there were only five books, with the last appearing in 1997, but in 2006, Where's Wally? made a come back, and now it is more popular than ever.
As well as books, there are now calendars, stationary, greetings cards, and a heap of other merchandise. Wally's gone viral.
And a good thing too, I say. Children deserve to enjoy these books. They are great fun, and will keep kids occupied for hours.
Where's Wally? is not a storybook, activity book, or picture book in the conventional sense. It is really a mixture of all three. The best I can describe them as is a detective book, where the reader plays detective.
The books are made up of several highly detailed illustrated double-page spreads, depicting characters doing a variety of amusing things in various locations and time periods. Within each world, you must find Wally, the adventurer. With his distinctive red and white outfit, he should be easy to spot, right? Don't be fooled. These immersive landscapes a full of red-herrings.
As well as Wally, you must find a number of his companions as well. These include Wally's dog Woof, arch rival, Oddlaw, his friend Wilma/Wenda, and the mysterious Wizard Whitebeard. Wally's fan club also go along for the ride. There are usually twenty-five 'Wally Watchers' per book that you have to find.
Wally is quite a absent minded fellow, and he often loses things on his travels. Can you help him find his glasses, books, binoculars, and other gadgets?
After all that searching you come to the end of the book, and you think you have finished, but no. You then discover a check list full of scenes and objects that you need to locate. Back to the beginning. As you can see, kids are not going to play with these books once; they're going to go back time and time again to make sure everything is found.
Each individual book has a certain theme. For example, my favourite Where's Wally Now? Travels through time. Start in the Stone Age and go all the way to a space station in the future.
The books in the series include:
Where's Wally? Where's Wally Now? Where's Wally?: The Fantastic Journey Where's Wally? In Hollywood Where's Wally? The Wonder Book Where's Wally? The Great Picture Hunt Where's Wally? The Incredible Paper Chase
They can be bought in several formats, such as paperback, hardback, and pocket-sized versions for when travelling.