Tricking the Tallyman by Jacqueline Davies

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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 two about our country, its history, and the ways our government works, shhh . . . we won’t tell!

Tricking the Tallyman accomplishes the tricky task of showing kids the way the 1790 census was tabulated (or tallied) and how the country’s new citizens came to understand (after much misunderstanding) how it worked to help them and the country. Excellent for classroom use or to put in the hands of bright kids with a taste for the quirky and irreverent, young readers may enjoy this story so much they might not even notice how much they’ve learned!

About Jacqueline Davies

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Jacqueline Davies is the talented writer of several novels and picture books, including The Lemonade War series and The Boy Who Drew Birds. Ms. Davies lives in Needham, Massachusetts, with her family. Visit her website at
Published January 7, 2014 by Knopf Books for Young Readers. 41 pages
Genres: Humor & Entertainment, Children's Books, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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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.

May 20 2010 | Read Full Review of Tricking the Tallyman

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