By: Trudy Harris
Publisher: Millbrook Press
Publication Date: September 2010
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: September 2010
Tally McNally was not only an alley cat, but he was also a “tally cat.” Graffiti wasn’t his thing, but a bit of tallying was. Of course he always had to come out on top and he tallied everything from the mice he caught to how many lives he’d used up. Kitty used up four, Boots had used up two, and Tally had used up eight. The bricks in his alley were covered with Tally’s statistics because “He kept a tally all day long of who was right and who was wrong, / of who was tall and who was taller, / of who was small and who was smaller.” He was “scratch, scratch, scritcy, scratch, scratch” not to be undone!
It wouldn’t be long before Stripes, Kitty, Boots, and Tom Cat would get really aggravated with his constant one upmanship. It began to rain and all the cats tried to stay under cover. Raincoats and umbrellas came out and even Kitty spread the pages of a cat magazine over her head to keep the rain from soaking her. Poor Tom Cat got totally drenched and as he threw himself into a ratty old chair, he complained, “I’m soaked to my skin. No cat is as wet.” Well, naturally Tally McNally wasn’t going to have any of that and poured a bottle of water over his head. “Ten drops for you and sixteen for me / means I’m the wettest. / You’ll have to agree.” Soon there was a challenge and Tom Cat threw himself into a puddle, but Tally McNally, not to be outdone, accidentally was washed into a drain. “Scratch, scratch, scritcy, scratch, scratch” . . . would anyone be able to save him?
This is a fabulous story of a tallying alley cat, Tally McNally, who learned the value of counting on his friends. I loved how this story easily incorporated the math concept of tallying and the value of friendship in this delightful tale. In the back of the book there is an explanation of tallying and what each line represents and how “we can keep track of more than one thing at a time.” Many children don’t like the fact that there always manages to be one in the crowd who feels they are better than everyone else, are smarter, and are always the best at everything. Tally is representative of that type of person, but the story very gently and tactfully shows him the error of his ways. The artwork? Well, “Scratch, scratch, scritcy, scratch, scratch,” it would be mighty hard to top the adorable factor.
Quill says: This multifaceted book would be an excellent read and discuss book in the homeschool or classroom setting!