In honour of this week, I'm going to repost here a review I did of one of my favourite banned books of all time. This review appeared originally at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books back in October 2007. I was lucky enough to win the Banned Books Review Contest and received a bracelet of covers of banned books that I wear all the time (and OMG go buy one right now). You can find the original post here.
Of the most banned books of the nineties, none stood out to me with such a force as Martin Hanford’s Where’s Waldo? series. Indeed, while I was stunned to find several of my childhood favorites present, it took me quite some time to come to terms with the fact that this was not a typo.
What did this bespectacled, befuddled, behatted man do to earn the ire of some proportion of the American public?
Waldo (or Wally in the original UK print), a brunet in perhaps is early thirties, perpetually wanders the world in blue jeans and a candy-cane striped shirt with matching toque. He is also perhaps the only man in the world who hides for a living… all the time. He is joined on his travels by his dog, Woof, and his girlfriend, Wenda/Wanda. Occasional sightings of Waldo’s ex-girlfriend Wilma have been known to happen, but as Wilma is Wenda’s identical twin, it is uncertain if these sightings are always genuine. Plotting against Waldo is his arch-nemesis, Odlaw. Odlaw has stolen both his name and his wardrobe from Waldo and it is little wonder that he lurks amongst the pages of the Where’s Waldo? series hoping to in some way undermine Waldo’s efforts at… um… hiding.
Waldo himself could certainly stand to be more selective on the company he keeps. Seen at Viking banquets, courthouses full of lawyers and at an area suspiciously similar to a brothel, Waldo shows a remarkable lack of morals when choosing his associates. And yet, I find it hard to fault him for it. Sure, Waldo could show some discretion, but it sends a powerful message of inclusiveness out to today’s children that Waldo is not afraid to be seen with court jesters; and is as ready to submit himself to their company as with the fine men and women establishing the first moon colony. Waldo’s childlike sense of wonder at the world should be an inspiration to us all. Waldo finds joy in almost any situation – from seaside resorts to the dungeons of the furthest Neptunian moons. And he never gives up. Never mind if you find him in Bangladesh, he’ll move on, gathering up his friends and assorted lost belongings before he goes. (If nothing else, everyone could take a leaf out of Waldo’s book whilst traveling.)
Waldo is welcoming. He always smiles and keeps the company of both a good woman and a good dog. And no matter what terrible things his enemy does to him, he never retaliates. And he never gives up.
Should we ask anything less than that of our children? Can we afford to ask anything less than that of ourselves?