Tricking The Tallyman


In 1790 a group of men set out to take a count for the first American census. The folks in the town of Tunbridge don’t want to be counted. But Phineas, the man sent to count the town, starts knocking on doors anyway. At first there is no one to count, because they don't answer the door. Then the townspeople think the government wants to give them money based on the number of people so they dress up anyone they can, even the animals. Once they realize the numbers will be used to determine taxes, they decide to tell the truth so they are represented correctly,

Reader Enjoyment Factors:

With humor and silliness that reach kids where they are, elementary students can learn about taxes and the purpose of the census.

Content Awareness Factors:


Little Kid Reaction

I picked this book because my daughter is enjoying her studies of colonial history. She laughed when the townspeople try to trick Phineas thinking he wants to give them money. She stopped and looked at every picture to see which animal was dressed liked a child. She also liked it when they realized they needed to tell him the truth,

Parent Reaction

I enjoyed the silly story that went along with the complex issue of taxes. I liked that they made it easy to understand and a fun story to read. Children do not even realize they are learning when they read the story! I wasn’t sure she would understand the stories, and I was pleased that as we read how she asked the right questions and was able to pick up the answers in the text.

Type of Book:
This picture book describes the history and purpose of the census in a way that engages young children.
Educational Themes:

There are several layers to this book. You've got the broader themes of colonial history, tax history, and how the census is used. On an individual level, you can talk about personal responsibility and consequences. You can build on the story by asking kids what happens to lots of people when just one person lies.

Reading Level:
Recommended Age To Read By Yourself:
8 to 12
Recommended Age To Read Together:
6 to 9
Age of child:
Read with 5-year-old girl.
Purchase Recommendation:
Buy. This is a fun story to share at home and will be invaluable in the classroom or school library.

Title Tricking the Tallyman
Author Jacqueline Davies
Publisher Knopf Books for Young Readers, Imprint Knopf Doubleday © 2014
Illustrators S. D. Schindler
ISBN 9780375839092
Material Hard Cover
Genres History, Civics
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Other Reviews:

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