Where’s Waldo? celebrates its 26th birthday this July by hosting a national hide-and-seek to help support neighborhood bookstores.
Candlewick Press and the American Booksellers Association (ABA) hosted the “Find Waldo Local” initiative last year to encourage shopping at local bookstores. But the original idea came from Carol Chittenden at Eight Cousins Bookstore in Falmouth, Massachusetts in 2011. Eight Cousins Bookstore, wanting to draw more customers to the store, developed the campaign to create a scavenger hunt with Waldo.
The Bookworm of Edwards joined the search last year. Franny Gustafson, children’s department manager, said that “one of the main purposes of this scavenger hunt is to promote our sense of community. I’ve worked with 19 Riverwalk businesses to promote this event. They’ve all been very enthusiastic and happy to participate.”
This enthusiasm is evident when talking to store owners participating in the Waldo party. Kathy Rohlwing, owner of The Kitchen Collage, said “It’s fun to see these children so curious to hear about Waldo and to see the Waldo program.
“There was one little guy about 8 years old who went through the entire store. We kept trying to give him little hints like ‘Waldo loves to read’ and he was trying to go to everything [relating to reading]. He finally found Waldo near the cookbooks and he laughed and laughed! His grandma was laughing, too!”
This event, while wonderful for engaging children in community-building events, has also drawn teens and adults into the fray. Most adults are nostalgic about Waldo.
“I definitely remember looking for Waldo as a kid. The books are so bright and engaging! You can enjoy these books at any age and it’s fun to flip through different scenes and challenge yourself,” Gustafson said.
Candlewick supports the stores engaged in promoting one of its top-selling books. Not only has Waldo been a New York Times bestseller three times, but it is also the fastest-selling children’s book, second only to Harry Potter. This event brings Waldo books back into style and it helps local communities engage with each other.
“We understand the importance of shopping local and supporting out community,” Gustafson says. “It has certainly increased traffic in our store as well as other stores that are involved.”
The rules of the game are simple, get a booklet (The Bookworm of Edwards supplies those) and find participating stores. Then the real search begins: find the famed red-and-white stripes and get a sticker from the store. Once you find 10 Waldos, you get a sticker and a $1 discount on Waldo books at The Bookworm. If you find 15 or more Waldos, you get a chance to win a larger prize. The prizes are distributed at 6 p.m. on July 31 at The Bookworm of Edwards.
If you find yourself with a free afternoon with the kids (or need to satiate your inner child), don your red-and-white striped hats and sweaters and head to Edwards to find Waldo. The event ends on July 31, so visit The Bookworm of Edwards for more information and to join the search.