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TRICKING THE TALLYMAN by Jacqueline Davies


by Jacqueline Davies and illustrated by S.D. Schindler

Age Range: 5 - 8

Pub Date: April 14th, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-375-83909-2
Publisher: Knopf

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)