Girish Mahajan (Editor)

Where's Wally

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Martin Handford

United Kingdom


Martin Handford

Children's literature

Finding Wally in the midst of a great crowd

UK: Walker BooksUS: Little Brown & Co then Candlewick Press

Media type
Print (hardback & paperback)

Wizard Whitebeard, Odlaw, Woof, Wilma, Wally, Wenda

Where's Wally?, Where's Wally Now?, Where's Wally? The Fantastic, Where's Wally in Hollywood?, Where's Wally? The Wonder B

I Spy (Scholastic), Where's Wally Now, Where's Wally in Hollywood

Our latest book obsession where s wally

Where's Wally?, published in the US as Where's Waldo?, is a British series of children's books created by the English 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.


Finding Wally at the beach in the midst of the crowd

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. The books have also inspired a television show (Where's Wally?: The Animated Series), comic strip and a series of video games.

Finding Wally in the Amusement park amidst a great crowd


Finding Wally in place full of people

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. Sometimes it would take him up to eight weeks to draw a two-page sketch of the elusive "Wally" and the characters surrounding him.

The first Where's Wally? book was published on Monday 21 September 1987. The Where's Wally? books were published in the United Kingdom by Walker Books and in the United States 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.

Finding Wally on a train station

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 television series, a comic strip and a series of video games.

Finding Wally in an Amusement Park with lots of people

Wally has been made harder to find from book to book, by reducing his size on the page and surrounding him by more other characters. In the first book, Wally was on average 0.99 square centimetres (sq cm) big. This was reduced to 0.80 sq cm in the second book, 0.33 sq cm in the third, and between 0.20 and 0.17 sq cm in the fourth through seventh book. He has also been surrounded by more other characters, from 225 on the first book's first page to about 850 on the last book's first page.


  • Wally, whose name was localised for certain international editions, for example Waldo in the United States and Canadian editions. In the first two books, Wally wandered alone and was the only person to be found in every illustration. 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 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. He also has a British accent in the television series. Although we are told "his bad deeds are many", he is not depicted in the books doing anything particularly nasty. However, in the television series, he is frequently seen to be attempting to steal Wally's magical walking stick. Note that the name "Odlaw" is simply a reversal of the spelling of "Waldo", the American name for Wally, although he is called "Odlaw" in the United Kingdom as well.
  • 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 which 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 that first appeared in Where's Wally? The Ultimate Fun Book (1990). They turn up wherever Wally goes, dressed in the same red-and-white striped outfit. 25 appear in most books, though there are 99 of them in the Ultimate Fun Book.
  • In the earlier books, a character appears in every scene, which the reader must look to find out who it is. This 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).
  • In some cases, characters from previous scenes would also appear.
  • International editions

    In international editions, Wally has often been given a name in the local language:

    Primary books

    As of 2009, there are 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? (US title: Where's Waldo in Hollywood?) (1993)
    5. Where's Wally? The Wonder Book (US title: Where's Waldo? The Wonder Book) (1997)
    6. Where's Wally? The Great Picture Hunt! (US title: Where's Waldo? The Great Picture Hunt!) (2006)
    7. Where's Wally? The Incredible Paper Chase (US title: Where's Waldo? 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 (105 millimetres (4.1 in) × 148 millimetres (5.8 in)). 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).

  • 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)
  • A £1 World Book Day Book
  • Where's Wally? The Spectacular Poster Book (2010)
  • Larger book containing cut-out posters
  • Where's Wally? The Search for the Lost Things (2012)
  • Where's Wally? 25th Anniversary Annual (2012)
  • 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.

    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.
  • Magazine

    There was a series of geographical magazines made available for children in the United Kingdom, Ukraine, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Portugal, Poland, Brazil, France, Hungary, Malta, Bulgaria and Russia, called Wally's World. In each issue Wally traveled 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, Where's Wally?: The Animated Series, with Townsend Coleman as the voice of Wally, was produced by DiC for CBS in 1991 for the North American market under 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.


    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, but the project was also cancelled.

    In November 2011, MGM and Classic Media announced that a live-action film based on the Where's Wally? series is in development. Screenwriter Todd Berger has been hired to write the story for the film, which was slated to be released in the summer of 2015. On March 9, 2016, Deadline reported that Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg are in talks to produce the film with their producing partner James Weaver while Kyle Hunter and Ariel Shaffir will write the film, under their Point Grey Pictures banner.

    The 1994 comedy film Naked Gun 33⅓: The Final Insult, starring Leslie Nielsen and Priscilla Presley, features a cameo appearance by Wally at the end of the film during a scene that takes place at the Academy Awards.

    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".

  • Where's Waldo? (1991) (NES)
  • The Great Waldo Search (1992) (NES, SNES, Mega Drive)
  • Wally o Sagase! (1993) (Super Famicom) (Japan-exclusive title published by Tomy)
  • Where's Waldo at the Circus (1995) (PC)
  • Where's Waldo?: Exploring Geography (1996) (PC)
  • Where's Waldo? The Fantastic Journey (2009) (PC, Mac, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS, iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch)
  • Where's Waldo? in Hollywood (2010) (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch)
  • 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.

    This was shown in The Simpsons episode "Hello Gutter, Hello Fadder" where Homer shouts "WALDO, WHERE ARE YOU?!" after looking at the scene on the cereal box as Waldo walks by the kitchen window.

    World record attempts

    On Thursday 2 April 2009, 1,052 students, alumni, and members of the community at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, US, 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.

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

    The Waldo Waldo 5K has tried to break the record in a 5k fun run to raise money for the Waldo Canyon Fire burn area in Colorado Springs, Colorado, US, every year since the fire in July 2012. The first attempt, on Sunday 21 October 2012, had just over a thousand The second attempt, on Sunday 27 October 2013, had over 2,700. The third attempt, on Sunday 26 October 2014, hosted 3,104 participants. The fourth attempt, on Saturday 17 October 2015 increased the count to 3,400 participants. The fifth attempt was made on 22 October 2016, with a final count of 3,524. The next race will be held on Saturday, 21 October 2017.

    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, Wenda, Wizard Whitebeard, Odlaw, and Woof, hiding throughout downtown Chicago and invited others to come and find them.


    Where's Wally? Wikipedia