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Tricking the Tallyman

3.77  ·  Rating Details  ·  118 Ratings  ·  42 Reviews
Are kids interested in learning about the very first American census? Probably not. Do young readers clamor for stories set in the very, very olden days of the late 18th century? Uh, not really. Okay, but do they like nutty cat-and-mouse trickery, wacky slapstick, and animals disguised as people? You bet! So let them have all that, and if they end up learning a thing or tw ...more
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published April 14th 2009 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
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J. Bryce
Jun 09, 2012 J. Bryce rated it really liked it
A cute short book about the first US Census, 1790, and how one enumerator tries to count a reticent village. (A brief post-script explains how it's all changed in the last 220 years.) Entertaining, nicely and colorfully illustrated by S. D. Schindler.

The only thing I didn't like was the dialogue -- too much like what people expect 18th Century people to sound like, which in turn is closer to Elizabethan/Shakespearian use than reality. But even that became forgivable.

Jul 13, 2015 Erin rated it really liked it
What a great little picture book for teaching history with an amusing story. The pictures add a lot of fun to the story as you look for evidence of the town's attempts to trick the tallyman when he comes to make his count, and there are some good details that help you understand the time period better, such as the way ink was made in a pinch. This was probably my favorite of this year's Battle of the Books titles that I read personally.
Alexandria Hiam
Good for an elementary level social studies lesson about the first American Census. The townspeople try to outwit the Tallyman, twice! First they hide everyone because they are afraid of being taxed too much. Then, when the Tallyman returns they bring out everyone, including their farm animals and dress them up as children, aunts and cousins to get extra money for buildings and roads, etc. In the end they end up telling the truth because it's the right thing to do. Illustrations are nicely done ...more
Good for an elementary level social studies lesson about the first American Census. The townspeople try to outwit the Tallyman, twice! First they hide everyone because they are afraid of being taxed too much. Then, when the Tallyman returns they bring out everyone, including their farm animals and dress them up as children, aunts and cousins to get extra money for buildings and roads, etc. In the end they end up telling the truth because it's the right thing to do. Illustrations are nicely done ...more
Census picture book alert! I especially love that this just works as a funny story with silly language! No need to know what a census is, though you will get some history about the first census and a nice outreach message about census participation. This enumerator gives it her stamp of approval.

**Note that it includes the historically accurate phrase "free white", with a note at the very end about how different racial groups were counted in 1790. I like that it doesn't duck this issue, but it
With his motto "Count them I must and count them I will," Phineas Bump arrives at a town, ready to fulfill his job of counting everyone for the census of 1790. The town, however, has other ideas. Hoping to trick the government for the town's benefit, the townspeople try to disguise how many people really live there. They soon find, however, that telling the truth is the best policy.

While I enjoyed this story, I am not sure how much it would appeal to children as a fun read. The idea of the town
Sarah W
May 22, 2010 Sarah W rated it liked it
Shelves: history, census
Phineas Bump is a tallyman, one of 650 men sent out in 1790 to take the first United States census. Beleaguered by his travels, Phineas finds his problems only get worse when he tries to count the people of Tunbridge, Vermont. The townspeople have no desire to be counted for taxes and soldiers so he finds only one free woman there. Then the townspeople learn that the tally determines how many people are sent to the new government. Suddenly, Tunbridge has over 1700 residents to be counted. When t ...more
Jul 10, 2014 Jennifer rated it really liked it
A fun tale around a rather boring historical fact - the first US census. I loved the way that the townspeople tried to trick the tallyman because they did not want to pay taxes or be drafted. And then on the flip side, they wanted to have a voice in their government representation.

A fun and engaging way to discuss aspects of American history.
Feb 11, 2014 Jackie rated it liked it
Tricking the Tallyman: The Great Census Shenanigans of 1790 is a humorous look of how very difficult it was to get a true and accurate tally of a town's populations. Full of trickery and foolishness, this story would be a great introduction into census taking.
Nov 12, 2015 Corinne rated it liked it
I think this is a really fun story about the history of our country. I wish the illustrations could be a little more fun, too. They made me feel like I was reading a dry history book.
Erica T
Reading the Battle of the Books books with my children this year. This was a quick little picture book. Teaches some good info about American history.
Marybet Hudson
Nov 28, 2014 Marybet Hudson rated it it was amazing
A fun book for teaching how and why the first census was taken, with a healthy dose of civic responsibilities thrown in.
I loved this! It was fun to read this to my daughter. Funny and educational.
Jordan Rasmussen
Aug 17, 2014 Jordan Rasmussen rated it it was amazing
Really good book
Kathy G.
Oct 04, 2014 Kathy G. rated it it was amazing
Adorable story with history thrown in. Telling the truth is the best way.
Jacob Rasmussen
Aug 17, 2014 Jacob Rasmussen rated it did not like it
Boring book.
Jan 27, 2016 Kathy rated it it was amazing
A great book to teach kids about the census. Fun.
Jun 20, 2014 PWRL marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014-new
Jul 09, 2014 Wendy rated it really liked it
Shelves: karla
Fun historical account of a town that tried to hide residents to avoid paying tax.
Beth Schencker
Jun 07, 2013 Beth Schencker rated it really liked it
Adorable telling of the first census of the United States. Poor Phineas Bump must go town-to-town counting people. When he comes to the Peppers household, he is persona non grata. They are terrified of being counted for according to Mrs. Peppers the more people the more taxes! Her clever son Boston who has heard the counting is for representatives for the new government corrects her. Alas, in the end, the census is for both! And the people of the town of Turnbridge finally cooperate.
Jan 07, 2010 Sarah rated it really liked it
Lately we've had a rush of high school kids wanting childrens books that are historical and tell stories. This would have been a good selection. It illustrates the beginnings of the census and how the fear of being overburdened with taxes was ballanced out by the desire for greater representation and power. This is a much easier example then say the 3/5 act and the impact of slavery on the census. This is a good title as the census is gearing up again.
Gwen the Librarian
This is the perfect book to read during a census year - it tells the story of the first U.S. census and how people misunderstood what was being counted. Did the census decide their taxes? Did it determine how many man would go into the army? Did it let the government decide on the numbers of state representatives? While the citizens of Tunbridge, VT, try to figure it out, they pull all kinds of shenanigans on their tallyman.
Nov 29, 2012 Shelli rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful book to read to young children when reading about early American History. Tricking the Tallyman, talks about our new nation’s first survey from the point of view of a small town and the Tallyman who comes to count its members. This book does a good job of explaining what a census is used for in government, both the good and the bad.
Lesly Bruner
Oct 28, 2013 Lesly Bruner rated it liked it
Tricking the Tallyman is a great book to describe how the census came to be and what the original census was like. I also felt it provided examples of the skepticism many citizens have of the government's intentions and the circumstance of needing to consider the good and bad of how we respond, vote, etc.
Jan 06, 2010 Phoebe rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Kezia for Cora
The best book I have ever seen for children on how and why the census was started. Marvelous, humorous illustrations give the book a friendly feel. An outstanding explanatory note at the end of the story is perfect for 3rd grade children and older.
Sep 30, 2009 Rory rated it really liked it
Shelves: kids, picture-books
I saw this sitting around at work, being processed out of our now defunct "American History" picturebook bin. The census, as a concept AND practice, has always fascinated me, and this tale read both as fun history and silly fable. I dug it.
Feb 05, 2012 Joenna rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 1st-2nd
In 1790, the suspicious residents of a small Vermont town try to trick the man who has been sent to count their population for the first United States Census.

What a fun book to learn about this part of history!
Victoria Whipple
Mar 31, 2010 Victoria Whipple rated it liked it
A small town in Vermont tries to trick the Tallyman during the first U. S. Census in 1790. Back matter gives information about the U.S. Census and its history.
Mar 03, 2010 Joy rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Perfect for the classroom or homeschoolers. A nice, easy picture book introduction to the first U.S. Census. I would have liked more facts at the end about the census.
Anne Broyles
May 29, 2009 Anne Broyles rated it really liked it
Comic look at the first census (1790) that slips in history, but mostly, entertains. Quirky illustrations add to the text's fun, irreverent attitude.
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