From School Library Journal
Starred Review. Grade 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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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. Grades 1-3. --Julie Cummins