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Waldo on the Road: Hide and Seek

Christina Talcott

A familiar face showed up at work recently: The bespectacled, pompom hat-wearing, walking stick-carrying, red and white striped shirt-sporting Waldo, of Martin Handford "Where's Waldo?" series (called "Where's Willy?" in Britain, where it debuted in 1987).

True, I had not been looking for Waldo for quite some time, but in a clever marketing decision, the latest oeuvre, "Where's Waldo? The Ultimate Travel Collection" was shipped out to travel writers and editors everywhere. Well, that's how I imagine it, though I can only vouch for their receipt in this travel section's mailbox.

In a flash of misguided enthusiasm, I challenged myself to find all the Waldos in the book and time it. Well, 40 minutes later, I had to put down the book, my eyes exhausted, my stomach a little queasy from all the bright colors and intense concentration. (I don't recommend timing yourself finding Waldo. It's just a game, kids.)

I also don't recommend this if you're looking for a book about travel to, um, real places. Also, if you don't think time travel is technically "travel," The book's chapter titles tell you what kinds of places Waldo will be: "Where's Waldo Now?" is about his travels into the past, including the building of the Egyptian pyramids; "The Fantastic Journey" involves his feast with the Gobbling Gluttons and a run-in with some Fighting Foresters.

There are some real places in the book, too -- Hollywood, a beach, an airport, a campground - and all feature cleverly hidden, but never disguised, Waldos strolling among the other characters, many of them zany, colorful and dressed a little like the intrepid traveler himself. Curses, you red-striped kerchief! I thought I'd found him!

I wouldn't call "Where's Waldo? The Ultimate Travel Collection" great travel journalism, but it's sure been nice catching up with an old friend.
And I'll finish the rest of the book's puzzles another time.

Anyone else a Where's Waldo fan? Have other people out there timed themselves doing Waldo puzzles? For some reason, it wouldn't surprise me if there were a community of people who competed in Waldo-finding. Anyone got the scoop?

By Christina Talcott |  June 17, 2008; 6:29 AM ET  | Category:  Christina Talcott
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I don't think I ever timed myself, but when I was a TA for introductory Geology classes, I used to throw a pile of the later, more complicated "Where's Waldo" books at the students.

A huge part about being a geologist is observation skills. Having them find not only Waldo, but other items on the checklist (found on the fly-leaves), helped them learn how to focus their vision.

Unorthodox, but some of the profs apparently kept using it as a technique after I stopped, so apparently effective.

Posted by: Chasmosaur | June 17, 2008 7:57 AM

Isn't it "Where's Wally?" not Willy.

Posted by: Wally | June 18, 2008 11:10 AM

Thanks Wally, you're so right! What a bozo typo on my part. Your find would make Waldo - or Wally - proud.

Posted by: Christina Talcott | June 18, 2008 11:33 AM

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