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Book Review: Where’s Waldo? (That pervert)




Why Review Where’s Waldo? Glad you asked.  The American Library Association (ALA) keeps track of the most-challenged books.  A “challenge” to a book means that someone has screamed out that the book is too______.  You may choose and insert your own adjective.  The harmless Where’s Waldo? found itself in the top 100 challenged books between 1990-2000.

I know I know I know.  I almost peed my pants it was so ridiculous.

Challenged books are usually accused of being:

  • Too sexual, either for the intended age group or just because (Gossip Girl)
  • Unchristian, atheistic, or downright Satanic (Harry Potter, The Golden Compass, Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark)
  • Homosexual in nature (And Tango Makes Three).  This book features penguins.
  • Too druggy and violent (The Outsiders)
  • Too awesome and timeless and amazing (To Kill A Mockingbird)

Where Does Where’s Waldo? fit in?

The Where’s Waldo? books feature:

  • A guy with glasses wearing a striped shirt and hat
  • This guy appears on every page in a crowd of people. Lots of them.
  • You try to find him.

That doesn’t sound too scandalous

Nope.  Sounds like we’re on the same page. Good for us! These books are as harmless as it gets. I see plenty of them at work and I have looked through them all trying to find something objectionable. No luck yet.

So why was it challenged?

More than one person has claimed in voices both shrill and hysterical that Where’s Waldo? is full of “adult hidden pictures.” You got it. Words like “a bare breast” and “topless sunbathers” get thrown around a bit. The claims seem groundless to me.

What is the lesson here?

There are a couple:

  • Don’t write books or people will ban them
  • If hardcore porn is distasteful to you, you can get a nice mellow titillation from WW?
  • I’m a really low-level pervert, I guess. I’ve spent a lot of time looking for the naughty bits without any luck.  (But on the other hand, I don’t feel guilty)

The Verdict?

This isn’t Snopes or Mythbusters, but I’m going to file this one under trivial conspiracy theories along with:

  • The Munchkin suicide when Dorothy sets off down the Yellow Brick Road
  • The cursing monkey from Aladdin.
  • Bloody Mary
  • Dark Side of The Rainbow: Wizard of Oz/Pink Floyd collaboration

Someone will always find a way to complain. Nothing is 100% hysteria- or controversy-proof. Take a look at my Where The Wild Things Are book review if you’re looking for more.


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  • Megan Horton May 8, 2009, 9:03 am

    Waldo could be a pervert if you think about it. What if he’s lurking on every page looking for little girls or boys to murder?? I have seen one picture in a Where’s Waldo that was “questionable”. It was a naked clown with an erection on a pogo stick. It just made me laugh, and it had to pointed out to me, so I doubt if little kids will notice it.

  • Josh Hanagarne May 8, 2009, 9:58 am

    Are you sure that’s what it was? Which book was it in?

  • Megan Horton May 8, 2009, 11:39 am

    I don’t know. IT was a few years ago, and YES I’m sure. However, it was very well hidden, it had to be pointed out to me. I’ll try and find out which book it was in.

  • Megan Horton May 8, 2009, 5:50 pm

    It’s true Josh!!! Just believe in something for once without proof. Kind of like the way you believe my little ponies are roaming the streets of Salt Lake, or the way you believe in the healing powers of the BDB.

  • Elbe August 13, 2009, 10:36 pm

    OMG! It’s true. Look in the lower right hand corner…

  • Shyla February 8, 2011, 7:48 pm

    In the first book (1987) at the beach scene there is a woman sunbathing on the beach with her bikini-top untied. A child is putting an ice cream cone on her back so her lifts up in suprise. Shows side boob with nipple. It’s on the upper right side of the the page between the cactus and the knight in the sand castle.

    • Laura Thompson February 18, 2011, 4:00 pm

      On the front of the same book with topless bikini is a guy looking up the skirt of a lady. Hmmmm is THIS what we want our children looking at ? Guess there are too many people in this world who don’t care their children are introduced to such questionable behaviors. Remember these books are drawn for “children”.

  • Im On A Boat June 23, 2012, 6:22 am