Reviews for Tricking the Tallyman


Booklist Reviews 2009 February #2
The audience for this title will not know the term tallyman, but this story cleverly sums it up. Who will outsmart whom--Phineas Bump, the 1790 U.S. census taker who rides into Tunbridge, Vermont, heartsick, saddle-sore, and down on his luck but determined to count the people for his job, or the townsfolk who don t want to be counted because they think they ll have to pay more taxes? When young rascal Boston Pepper gets an idea, it switches their thinking: more people would mean more government representation and more votes to get things done! Overnight, Phineas goes from knocking on doors of empty houses to being welcomed by Mrs. Pepper, whose family has suddenly multiplied (thanks to numerous animals dressed as humans), and it s a win-win situation. The detailed illustrations underscore the humor while the colloquial dialogue adds flavor; "Cheese and chowder!" exclaimed Mrs. Pepper. Count on teachers zeroing in on this nifty number. Copyright 2009 Booklist Reviews.

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Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2009 #3
Phineas Bump's unexpected arrival in the hamlet of Tunbridge, Vermont, causes consternation: the "tallyman" is one of 650 marshals trying to count the inhabitants of the new United States, but what will be the local repercussions of this 1790 census? Afraid that a higher count will mean higher taxes, Mrs. Pepper hides her children and claims herself as the sole inhabitant of Tunbridge. Courteous but suspicious, Phineas sticks around. Sure enough, once young Boston Pepper hears that the count will determine representation in Congress, mother and son contrive to get a re-count for which everyone in town shows up, including not only numerous Peppers but a slew of clothed and bonneted animals, for a grand total of 1,726. News that taxes, too, will hinge on census results finally gets Phineas an accurate tally. Schindler's energetic characterizations and detailed illustrations resemble Peter Spier's meticulous renditions of early settlements, their historical features coexisting comfortably with the tall-tale humor. The narrative is long but lively, its entertaining dialogue enriched by information (extended in an endnote) on that first census. It's odd that Davies places events in Vermont, which didn't become the fourteenth state until 1791, when its first census was actually taken; still, that's a small flaw in an engaging story. Copyright 2009 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2009 March #1
The tallyman is a census-taker, and in Davies's book, he is Phineas Bump--"heartsick, saddle-sore, and down on his luck"--and something of a clever-boots poking through the "rooty Vermont woods" in 1790 to take his count of the locals. He's been on the road too long, misses his wife and has run short of paper and ink, but he's a dutiful soul who must outfox the suspicious residents of a Vermont town to get his job done. The good citizens of Tunbridge fear the tallyman's count is all about taxes and conscription, so they scheme to deceive him. Then they learn the count is all about proportional representation in government, so they scheme to deceive him contrariwise. When they learn it is all three, they are reduced to playing an honest hand. Schindler draws this waggish, keen-witted piece of Americana with delicate colors and fine lines. All told, it is a slice of engaging history--told with a bracing comic flourish: " ‘Carp and cod!' exclaimed Mrs. Pepper…‘Cheese and chowder!' "--sandwiched between wily designs, making for extremely satisfying fare. (author's note) (Picture book. 5-8) Copyright Kirkus 2009 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Library Media Connection Reviews 2009 August/September
In 1790 the first census was begun. Those being counted were often suspicious. So when Phineas Bump, the tallyman, rides into the small Vermont town of Turnbridge, it?s no surprise that he is met with resistance. Believing a large count will result in higher taxes and aid the government in finding men to turn into soldiers, Mrs. Pepper attempts to trick the marshal into believing she is the town?s only resident. When her son hears that the count is to determine how many men will represent Turnbridge in the new government in Philadelphia, Mrs. Pepper asks for a recount. Mrs. Pepper and her son finally decide the best way to be fair and true is by giving accurate numbers. Obscure bits of history are revealed as readers follow the story; the whimsical illustrations are filled with snippets of situational humor, and detailed sketches of clothing and village life offer an accurate portrayal of the time period. The absurdity of a town using animals dressed as children to trick the Tallyman will have children laughing out loud. An author?s note adds valuable background information. Recommended. Helen Burkart Presser, Lower School Librarian, Canterbury School, Fort Wayne, Indiana ¬ 2009 Linworth Publishing, Inc.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2009 March

Gr 1-4--This lively, engaging picture book is an outstanding introduction to the concept of census taking and its role in the implementation of the new United States Constitution. One day in 1790, Phineus Bump rides into Tunbridge, VT. He is an honorable man who takes his duties seriously, yet he wishes to return home to his loved ones, whom he hasn't seen in three months. His job is to count every man, woman, and child in town and report back to the government. But folks are skeptical: Will the numbers be used to establish taxation or conscription, or, as rumors are saying, representation in the new government? They aren't taking any chances and set out to trick the Tallyman, going from one extreme to the other and delaying his completion of the task. Finally, a real understanding of the man's mission allows them to be counted "fair and true." Schindler's exceptional illustrations, mainly in earth tones, depict indoor and outdoor scenes that are full of activity. Children will delight in finding hidden treasures in the pages. Especially noticeable is a look of consternation on a turkey whose feathers have recently been turned into writing quills. Charming and humorous, this book is certain to appeal to children--and to educators.--C. J. Connor, Campbell County Public Library, Cold Spring, KY

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