Where's Wally?

Where's Wally?
Where's Wally?
Martin Handford with Wally, Wenda, Odlaw, Wizard Whitebeard and Woof
Author Martin Handford
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre Children's literature

UK: Walker Books

US: Little Brown & Co then Candlewick Press
Published 1987 -
Media type Print (hardcover and 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 first book in the series, titled Where's Wally, was published in 1987. 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.



  • Wally, whose name was localised for international editions: In the first two books, Wally wandered alone; he was the only person or thing that could be found in every illustration in the books. Over time more characters were added to find in each scene.
  • Wilma, Wally's friend first appeared in the Ultimate Fun Book, and was replaced by her identical twin sister Wenda in the Where's Wally: The Magnificent Poster Book.
  • Wenda, A friend of Wally who replaced her twin sister Wilma for In Hollywood (although she previously appeared in The Magnificent Poster Book).
  • Odlaw, Wally's arch-nemesis, who made his print debut in The Magnificent Poster Book. He appears nearly the same as Wally, except that his clothes are yellow and black striped instead of red and white; his glasses have a blue tint to them; and he has a moustache. Although we are told "his bad deeds are many," he is not depicted in the books doing anything particularly nasty. However, in the T.V. series, he is frequently seen to be attempting to steal Wally's magical walking stick. Note that the name 'Odlaw' is simply 'Waldo' spelled in reverse, which is the American name for Wally.
  • Woof, Wally's dog, first appeared in The Ultimate Fun Book, where he was identified as Wenda's dog. Only his tail can be found with the exception of the final page of Where's Wally: The Wonder Book, which depicts all of Woof, and the six activity books released between 1993 and 1995 (the first book of whom is titled The Truly Terrific Activity Book), where Woof shows himself to the reader.
  • Wizard Whitebeard, first seen in The Fantastic Journey. His signature is his exceptionally long beard, which is often the key to finding him. In his first appearance, he was responsible for sending Wally on a quest to discover the truth about himself, and he has tagged along on Wally's travels ever since. His appearance in The Ultimate Fun Book, however, is in just one scene ("Old Friends") and his presence is unmentioned in the book and acts as one of the background characters.
  • The Wally Watchers are Wally's devoted fan-club. There are lots of them (25 appear in most books, though there are 99 of them in the Ultimate Fun Book), and they turn up wherever Wally goes. They first appeared in The Ultimate Fun Book.
  • In the earlier books, a character appears in every scene and you have to look to find out who it is, because no information on the characters is given in the books aside from the task to look for them. The characters appeared as background characters and all had something unique to them (like blonde hair or a ginger beard).

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 things to look for in every scene, and also moved Wally to a different location than 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 (for example, The Fantastic Journey includes a '3' in the said area because it is the 3rd book in the series). 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 2-D effect, but it was originally designed to look like a 3-D 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).

  • Where's Wally? The Ultimate Fun Book (1990)
    • Activity book
  • Where's Wally? The Magnificent Poster Book (1991)
    • Larger book containing cut-out posters
  • Where's Wally? The Dazzling Deep-sea Divers Sticker Book (1994)
    • Sticker book and play scene
  • Where's Wally? The Fabulous Flying Carpets Sticker Book (1994)
    • Sticker book and play scene
  • A Where's Wally? Fun Fact Book: Plundering Pirates (2000)
    • Educational Where's Wally? book with new scenes and facts
  • A Where's Wally? Fun Fact Book: Fighting Knights (2000)
    • Educational Where's Wally? book with new scenes and facts
  • Where's Wally? (2008)
  • Where's Wally? The Spectacular Poster Book (2010)
    • Larger book containing cut-out posters

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

  • Where's Wally? The Truly Terrific Activity Book (1993)
  • Where's Wally? The Absolutely Amazing Activity Book (1993)
  • Where's Wally? The Wildly Wonderful Activity Book (1994)
  • Where's Wally? Simply Sensational Activity Book (1994)
  • Where's Wally? The Really Remarkable Activity Book (1995)
  • Where's Wally? The Completely Crazy Activity Book (1995)
  • Where's Wally? Bumper Activity Book (1995) - previous four books in one volume.

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


Year Title Contains
1995 Bumper Activity Book The Wildly Wonderful Activity Book, The Simply Sensational Activity Book, The Really Remarkable Activity Book and The Completely Crazy Activity Books in one large book.
2000 Boxed Set Where's Wally?, Where's Wally Now, The Ultimate Fun Book, The Truly Terrific Activity Book and The Absolutely Amazing Activity Book
2004 The Completely Cool Collection Where's Wally?, Where's Wally Now?, The Fantastic Journey, In Hollywood and The Wonder Book special editions
2006 The Mega Mini Collection Where's Wally?, Where's Wally Now?, The Fantastic Journey and In Hollywood mini special editions.
2007 The Solid Gold Collection Where's Wally?, Where's Wally Now?, The Fantastic Journey, In Hollywood, The Wonder Book special editions and The Fabulous Flying Carpets Sticker Book
2009 The Ultimate Travel Collection Where's Wally, Where's Wally Now?, The Fantastic Journey, In Hollywood and The Wonder Book special editions in one travel-sized book
2009 The Magnificent Mini Box Set Where'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.

Publication details

  • Only the special editions of the original five books are still in print today, whilst a paperback 2007 reprint of The Great Picture Hunt and a paperback 2010 reprint of The Incredible Paper Chase remain in print over the originals.
  • 1997's The Wonder Book was the last numbered book in the series to contain new, original scenes, as The Great Picture Hunt and The Incredible Paper Chase contain both new scenes and older ones from The Ultimate Fun Book and The Magnificent Poster Book, as these books are no longer in print.
  • The scene originally titled "Among the Pirates" is the most used, as it has appeared in 1991's The Magnificent Poster Book, 2000's Plundering Pirates, 2006's The Great Picture Hunt, and a jigsaw puzzle.[citation needed]


There was a series of geographical magazines made available for children in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Malta, 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.[2]

In November 2011, MGM and Classic Media announced that a live-action Where's Wally? film is in development.[3]

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

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.[4][5]

On Sunday 19th June 2011, the previous record was broken when 3,872 people dressed as Wally gathered in Merrion Square, Dublin, Ireland.[6]

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.[7][8]


External links

  • FindWally.co.uk - The Official "Where's Wally?" website with links to social network profiles
  • FindWaldo.com - The Official US "Where's Wally?" website for all things Wally
  • Waldo Wiki - A Where's Wally? wiki project

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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