Sarah W's Reviews > Tricking the Tallyman

Tricking the Tallyman by Jacqueline Davies
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's review
May 22, 2010

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bookshelves: history, census
Read in May, 2010

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 the townspeople learn that the census is for takes and for representation, can they convince Phineas to count them again?

This book provides a humorous overview of how the census worked when it first started and its multiple purposes. This would be a useful story for a young social studies class. Phineas repeated statement of 'Count them I must, and count them I will," could make this an enjoyable read aloud.

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