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Tricking the Tallyman

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  101 ratings  ·  37 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
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.

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
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
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.
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.
Erica Thompson
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
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.
Kathy G.
Adorable story with history thrown in. Telling the truth is the best way.
Jun 20, 2014 PWRL marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014-new
Jul 09, 2014 Wendy rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: karla
Fun historical account of a town that tried to hide residents to avoid paying tax.
Beth Schencker
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.
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.
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
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 5 of 5 stars
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.
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.
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
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.
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
Comic look at the first census (1790) that slips in history, but mostly, entertains. Quirky illustrations add to the text's fun, irreverent attitude.
I read this to my fifth graders and they really enjoy hearing about the purpose of the census. This book is an example of how history can be fun!
Historical fiction that explains the census? Good to have. A little wordy for a read-aloud, and a little babyish for middle grades, though.
This book comes just in time for the census that will be coming next year! I think it is a cute story that school age children will enjoy.
As a genealogist, I found this book about the 1790 census, fun and entertaining and informative! Enjoy!
Sam Bloom
I love books like this - makes me think fondly of The Ox-Cart Man, one of my childhood favorites.
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