Tricking the Tallyman: The Great Census Shenanigans of 1790 by Jacqueline Davies. il S. D. Schindler.
Alfred A. Knopf/Random House: NY, 2009.

First of all, I love the name of the book. It feels great on the tongue.

The story is a very funny depiction of the first census of the United States. A town is counted three times. The first time, hiding the citizens, hoping to minimize the taxes they will be required to pay. The second time, dressing up animals as people, hoping to gain greater representation in the federal government. The third time is a charm, as the citizens have learned the full purpose of the census and are willing to cooperate.

There is a good balance between the historical and humorous. The focus is on the difficulty of the tallyman's job. A tiny aspect of history is spotlighted. Though tiny, it was an important event. I can imagine shenanigans such as this really did occur, given the avoidance of taxes (a constant fact) and participation in the militia. Makes one wonder if shenanigans are still going on with the census.

There is a brief discussion of the United States census at the end, including the tally then and the last one in the year 2000.

One of the best picture books I've seen published this year.

related-census, demographic surveys and studies, United States history, Vermont, United States Constitution, 1789-1809, developing a new country, humorous stories
RL=1st-2nd, use for elementary history classes

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