Where’s Wallace: The king of can-you-find-it books

I don’t know who wrote the first Where’s Waldo-type book, but I do know who wrote the best. And decade’s before Waldo, too, I think. (I’m not knocking Waldo, by the way. Waldo’s always been like a brother to me.)

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Anyway, Hilary Knight did it perfect with “Where’s Wallace” way back in 1964! Oh man, this book seems way too modern to have been written 43 years ago! A lot of people connect Knight to Eloise. Not me, I was raised on Wallace. (Thanks, Mom!)

What we have here is a very good story: Wallace the Orangutan frequently escapes from the zoo. Zookeeper Mr. Frumbee evolves fom captor to enabler as Wallace hits a department store, a museum, a beach, a baseball game, etc…

You read a spot-color story pagespread and then turn the page to reveal a hugely and humorously detailed “panorama.” Wallace is lost in there somewhere and so are other recurring characters who show up in perposterous places.

Here’s the Knitting Lady tubing at the beach and a the bottom of a totem pole. (Note that the totem pole seems to be the rosetta stone to the book. There are no instructions and no list of everything you have to find. The totem pole is one of jst two places where Knight puts all the non-Wallace items together.)

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And it’s not just a bunch of random nonsense and filler. Everything fits and clever bits are strewn far and wide. (There is one frustrating page where Wallace isn’t actually there, which I think is a bit unfair, especially to a kid that spends an hour looking.)

But then there’s the payoff. Every story wraps up and comes together on the last page!!!!! Genius! Brilliant! Asgardian!

And so very, very, very well-drawn.

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