Independent bookstores around the country will be celebrating the 25th anniversary of Where’s Waldo?, the entertaining and enormously popular series of books by Martin Handford with a month-long scavenger hunt.
Handford’s well-known lanky character, with his iconic striped knit cap and sweater, came as an afterthought. The artist’s real subject was originally the crowd in which Waldo is hidden. Handford got his start as a child obsessively drawing pages full of crude stick figures. As an adult, he became a freelance illustrator specializing in drawing crowd scenes for numerous clients. It was only when he needed a link between the scenes of a children’s book that Waldo was born.
Since then, Waldo has wandered through 28 countries, and his books have sold 40 million copies. For kids and adults alike, looking through page after page of meticulously drawn scenes jam-packed with people is a strangely relaxing addiction. Spend too long trying to find Waldo and you begin to start seeing him everywhere you look — on the page and off.
Participating bookstores have partnered with up to 20 other local businesses to hide little cardboard Waldos around town. Kids can local for special window stickers, and collect “I Found Waldo” cards at each store. The promotion is a joint campaign by Waldo publisher Candlewick Press and the American Booksellers Association to encourage families to “shop local.”