Thirty years later and Wally is still hiding. Flicking through the thirteen tableaus filled with all kinds of strange and wonderful people, we’re still searching for Wally, looking for that characteristic red and white striped jumper and jam-packed hiking pack. As the years have gone on, we’ve met his friends and enemies – his girlfriend Wenda (who looks oddly like Wally himself), his dog Woof (dressed to match his best bud Wally), Wizard Whitebeard (curiously reminiscent of a Waldo-themed Gandalf), and contrary enemy Odlaw.
Wally’s adventures have sold over sixty-seven million copies worldwide, spawning an Arabic Fodhoulo, a Mandarin Weili, a Norwegian Willy, and a Icelandic Valli, among others. As more and more Where’s Wally books have been released, he has gone from his local town, to Hollywood, to the beach, to the ski slopes, and more. He’s even spawned a television show and video games, been featured on television ads (and cereal boxes!), and seems to be an almost constant feature of Halloween costumes. Wally is undoubtedly a fixture, a cultural reference everyone from adults to kids will recognise, so it’s no wonder he’s back for yet another adventure.
In the thirtieth anniversary of Where’s Wally, Wally writes us a postcard for everywhere he visits. “Hi friends,” he writes. “My name is Wally. I’m just setting off on a worldwide hike. You can come too. All you have to do is find me.” For all Wally’s welcoming attitude, and his casual invitation of joining him on this very casual worldwide hike (and honestly, who just sets off on a worldwide hike?), it can take a while for us to find him. With each passing year, Martin Handford (author and illustrator of the bestselling Where’s Wally series) has made each scene more and more complicated, filled with more people, more details, more – everything. When Where’s Wally hit its tenth anniversary, Handford went back and introduced Wenda, Woof, Whitebeard and Odlaw, as well as twenty five wally-watchers who, like us, go around the world trying to find Wally. Add to that the objects Wally leaves in each scene like a breadcrumb trail directly to him, and Wally is as elusive as ever, showing no signs of settling down thirty years on.
To celebrate his anniversary, Wally visits the beach, the ski slopes, and the campsite, among other fantastic locations. On each page there’s a postcard, often with an easter egg or a little tidbit. The postcard that accompanies the beach, for example, tells us about a sand castle with a real knight in armour inside – just another fun thing for us wally-watchers to find. While much of our time is spent looking for Wally and his companions, it’s always worth taking your time on each page. Even before you find Wally, you’re sure to find strange, fun characters (like the man with the Wally jumper pattern sunburnt into his back, or the man fishing for mermaids), making each scene a fun and lively piece of art. With so much detail and so many fun characters packed into this book, it spells hours of fun for kids.
Wally’s still hiding. And you know what? We’re still fervently searching, even thirty years on.
Purchase a copy of Where’s Wally: 30th Anniversary Edition here, and follow Better Reading Kids on Facebook. This week we have two exclusive tableaus you can search for Wally in, which we’ll be posting on our Facebook, as well as all the other kids content you could want.