When I was a kid I loved to read. I still do. Sometimes, it’s nice just to sit, look, and immerse oneself in a story through art, and what picture book is more legendary than Where’s Waldo? Sorry, fellow Egypt enthusiasts, the Book of the Dead doesn’t count; hieroglyphs are representations of sounds and not just pretty little pictures. Back in the 80s and early 90s, Waldo was a worldwide phenomenon. The books were very popular and started a brand of popular t-shirts and clothing accessories. Waldo even had a TV show. So where the hell IS Waldo? I haven’t seen much of him lately.
I look back now and find it so interesting that something that could be easily described as a hot mess could capture my attention so absolutely. Each and every page could have been a book within itself; each a magical and hilarious adventure, sometimes diving into history ancient and modern, other times jumping into the world of fantasy or even outer space. Waldo was flipping magic!
Then as I got older, Waldo became more a part of my childhood and less a part of my day to day world. I explained it as “growing up” or “putting childish things behind me”. The truth is I betrayed Waldo. I felt like I didn’t need him to encourage me to explore the interesting things in life. I had surpassed him and his silly little hat. I didn’t need anyone, I had me. Oh, the things you believe as a young adult. You think you know everything and need no one.
What I didn’t realize is that I was putting the nail in the coffin of this magical character and book series. Just like the books, if you stop looking for Waldo he will disappear and be absorbed by the chaos around him. That’s what I did, and so did you. Everyone forgot about him and by the 199720th Anniversary Special, he was writing on the wall. Waldo was MIA.
However, over the past few years, it seems our beloved wanderer has emerged from the crowd and is starting to make a comeback. In 2006 and 2009 the first official Waldo books in almost a decade were published, and have apparently been hiding in Apple’s App Store since 2011. The funny thing is that his reappearance has corresponded very closely with the births of both my kids, and my getting an iPad. I have taken this as a sign. Waldo has forgiven my previous betrayal and encouraged me to find him once more.
I have to admit that nothing is better than sitting with my little girls and watching them enjoy Waldo in a way I never did, on the iPad or Android Tablet. Check them out and reconnect with your inner child. It’s also a great way to connect with your own children.
So why the hell did I call this blog post
Where’s Wally? Well the truth is Waldo is only Waldo in the US and Canada. The home of Waldo is the UK, where it was first published in 1987 before coming over to the Americas, and there his name is Wally.
To end this fun look at everyone’s favorite vagrant, here’s a list of Waldo’s name in other countries:
Bulgarian: Уоли (Uoli)
Hebrew: אפי (Efi)
Korean: 월리 (Wolli)
Japanese: ウォーリー (Wōrī)
Mandarin Chinese: 威利 (Wēilì)
Russian: Уолли (Uolli)
Swedish: Valle, Hugo
American English: Waldo
(My favorite is Where’s Holger?)