The DFF Book Club

Before the phenomenon of Where’s Wally? (yep, that’s right — he’s only called Waldo in North America) , there was the original — Where’s Wallace? by Hilary Knight.

And in this case, Hilary is a man. Here’s a self-portrait with Wallace.

Hilary Knight, author of Where's Wallace?

Knight is best known for his Eloise books, but I think Where’s Wallace? is a keeper. I remember it from my childhood (Where, when? — I’m not sure), and was delighted to find a second-hand copy for my own family.

Where's Wallace? by Hilary Knight

Wally/Waldo may have become a merchandising dream, but Knight’s story and illustrations beats it for its humour, style and well, story! First published in 1964 by Random House, this book tells the story of a friendly orang-utan that lives in a very stylised zoo and has a warm relationship with his keeper, Mr Frumbee.

(The zoo illustrations remind me of The Happy Lion, another vintage favourite in our household whose story is so poignant for many reasons.)

Wallace isn’t unhappy with his life, he’s just interested in seeing what people get up to during their days, and so he escapes — with (perhaps) the tacit approval of his keeper. Mr Frumbee then runs through the town to where he thinks Wallace has gone, and you have to search the busy illustrations very carefully to locate the red-haired ape.

Where's Wallace? by Hilary Knight
You and your children must search the museum to find the little ape.

Where's Wallace? by Hilary Knight
The beautiful illustrations convey a happy relationship between the [caged] animal and his keeper.

Wallace isn’t the only one hiding in each illustration. There’s a old lady knitting, an adventurous little girl with her highly-stressed mother, a boy with his cello, a baby in a bonnet, a cat, and a boy running a marathon (with a baton).

Hunting for all these characters will keep you entertained and amused, and you’ll keep coming back to Where’s Wallace? again and again.

Although out of print, you can get your own copy of Where’s Wallace? through Abebooks (which ships to Australia) or Amazon (some copies are very cheap).