AppLit Home Tina L. Hanlon

"Sody Sallyratus" or "The Bad Bear"


Compton, Joanne and Kenn. Sody Sallyratus. New York: Holiday House, 1995. Picture book. "When Ma runs out of baking soda for her biscuits, two of her sons and Ma herself disappear on the way to the store, leaving her son Jack to solve the mystery" (Worldcat).

Davis, Aubrey. Sody Salleratus. Illus. Alan and Lea Daniel. Toronto:  Kids Can Press, 1996. Davis’s dedication reads, “To Richard Chase, and to the students of the Metropolitan Toronto School Board, who taught me how to tell this tale” (Title page).

Sloat, Teri (reteller and illus.). Sody Sallyratus. New York: Dutton Children's Sody Sallyratus coverBooks, 1997. In this traditional Appalachian tale one family member after another goes to the store for baking soda and never returns. Finally the pet squirrel rescues the people who have been swallowed by a bear, and gets biscuits as a reward. Sloat includes notes on sources, background on baking soda, and a recipe for "The Old Woman's Bakin' Soda Biscuits." She notes that the tale is "a favorite with storytellers" and "has a basic form that allows the author to create a rhythm and repetition as it is told. . . . With due respect for the intelligence and lifestyle of the big black bear, . . . I have given him a home in the berry patch, and have let him escape to a new life after giving up overeating" (Author's Note). Borders of tree branches are used in varied ways around text and illustrations as the action of the tale alternates between peaceful scenes and wild action. Page on this book at Teri Sloat: Author, Illustrator gives an illustration and explains that she heard the tale at a storytelling festival and linked it with scenes near her California mountain cabin.

"Sody Sallyraytus." Chase, Richard. Grandfather Tales. Boston: Houghton, 1948, pp. 75-80. With one drawing of squirrel and bear by Berkeley Williams, Jr. When the squirrel tricks the bear into trying to climb a tree, the bear splits open and the people step out. One of the children in Chase's frame story recognizes the tale's similarity with "Billy Goats Gruff," which "didn't have no squirrel in it nor no bear." This tale is reprinted in MacDonald, Margaret Read. Twenty Tellable Tales: Audience Participation Folktales for the Beginning Storyteller. New York: H. W. Wilson, 1986. Rpt. Chicago: American Library Association, 2005.

Chase, Richard. "Sody Sallyraytus." In Smith, Jimmy Neil, ed. Why the Possum's Tail is Bare and Other Classic Southern Stories. New York: Avon, 1993. Grouped with other "Tales of Wonder and Magic." 

Torrence, Jackie. "Sody Salleradus." In Traditions: A Potpourri of Tales. Audiobook on Tape. Cambridge, MA: Rounder, 1994. "Presents six tales from African, African-American, Euro-American, and Appalachian traditions": "Sody Salleradus" (17:55), "The Fresher the Better" (7:30), "The Ku Bird" (6:23), "Why Spiders Hang in Corners" (10:03), "The Big Hairy Toe" (8:38), "Brer Rabbit Builds a House" (13:15).

"The Boy, the Bear, and the Baking Soda." Hicks, Orville, and Julia Taylor Ebel. Jack Tales and Mountain Yarns, As Told By Orville Hicks. Illus. Sherry Jenkins Jensen. Boone, NC: Parkway Publishers, 2009. Afterword by Thomas McGowan. pp. 114-21.

De Las Casas, Dianne. Beware, Beware of the Big Bad Bear! Illus. Marita Gentry. Gretna, LA: Pelican Pub., 2012. "When one after another family member goes the store for baking soda and never returns, the pet squirrel decides to investigate in this retelling of a traditional Appalachian tale. Includes a recipe for soda biscuits."

"The Bad Bear." Told by John Hammons, age 17, Knox County. In Roberts, Leonard. South From Hell-fer-Sartin': Kentucky Mountain Folk Tales. Lexington: U Press of Kentucky, 1955. Rpt. Berea, KY: The Council of the Southern Mountains, 1964. No. 77b, pp. 155-56. In a family living in a very old house on Boot Hill Mountain, a sick woman sends a girl for a drink of water. The girl hears a rhyme: "Take a bite of honey, / Take a bite of hay / Gobble you up!" The bear gobbles up each family member who comes out. The family's monkey goes to look for its masters, hears the bear, and goes up a tree. The bear can't reach the monkey and falls asleep on a branch so the monkey can knock it off, the bear bursts open, and the people jump out, each shouting "Goodie, goodie, I'm out!" The bear can't find its pieces fast enough to put itself together so it dies. No. 77c, pp. 157-58, "Greedy Fat Man," is a similar story in which the fat man eats a boy fetching a piece of meat from the store, then eats other family members and a rabbit, but when he tries to eat a squirrel, it goes up a tree, the man climbs up, he falls down and busts open, and his victims say, "I'm out." The squirrel says, "I'm out and never been in." Told by Harold Joseph, age 14, Leslie County. Roberts collected similar tales called "The Drunken Bear, "The Greedy Bear," etc. from other informants.

"Old Bear and Little Squirrel." Told by Esther South, October 1949. Item 3: LR-OR-003, Box 48, Leonard Ward Roberts Collection, Berea College Special Collections and Archives, Berea, KY. Esther South was a young girl from Hazard, Kentucky, who attended school in Leslie Co. when Roberts recorded her story. A boy, who is sent by his old mother to the store down the road for a can of kraut, is eaten by a bear. His sister and old mother and old father all similarly try to run but are eaten by the bear. After the bear eats a rabbit, too, a squirrel escapes by climbing a tree. The bear climbs after it but falls, bursts open, and each of its victims emerge declaring, "Haha, I'm out."

"Cheese and Crackers." In Roberts, Leonard. Old Greasybeard: Tales From the Cumberland GapIllus. Leonard Epstein. Detroit: Folklore Associates, 1969. Rpt. Pikeville, KY: Pikeville College Press, 1980. pp. 44-47. A series of family members trying to fetch cheese and crackers for the baby is each eaten by a bear. Their pet squirrel leads the bear on a chase up in the trees until it falls and bursts open; the people fall out, each saying, "Ha, ha, I'm out." Little cumulative rhymes occur in the encounters between the bear and each character as it eats them.

"Cheese and Quackers" by Anne Shelby. In Jones, Loyal, ed. Appalachian Folk Tales. Illus. Jim Marsh. Ashland, KY: Jesse Stuart Foundation, 2010. pp. 71-77. This version is similar to Roberts's except that there is no squirrel. This book has twelve tales by different storytellers and writers, with a Note to Parents and Teachers, a glossary, and background on the collectors and storytellers. (See Folktale Collections Indexed in AppLit.)

"Old Bear." In McCarthy, William Bernard, ed. Cinderella in America: A Book of Folk and Fairy Tales. Jackson: U Press of Mississippi, 2007. pp. 320-23. A hungry boy's mother gives him a bowl of beans and a bowl of kraut. He hides when a big bear eats his food. It then eats an old man, an old woman, a little boy fishing, and a little girl playing with her doll, after each one asks what he is doing and he replies "Eat a bowl of beans, eat a bowl of kraut, / Eat you too, if you don't watch out." The boy returns with his daddy, wanting his food back. The father kills the bear with an ax and cuts out the people inside. Each escapee says "I'm out" but the boy is still hungry so his mother will cook the bear for him. McCarthy says this is one of his favorite tales to tell. It was collected by Johnny Vanover in 1980 for a course taught by McCarthy at Pikeville College, KY.

Compare with:

Salley, Coleen. Epossumondas Saves the Day. IIlus. Janet Stevens. New York: Harcourt, 2006. N. pag. A Louisiana tale that is a variant of "Sody Sallyraytus." A snapping turtle prevents Mama's guests from getting to the store to get some sallyraytus for Epossumondas's birthday biscuits. Epossumondas is a baby possum. A starred review (highly recommended) in School Library Journal 1 Dec. 2006.

"The Three Billy Goats Gruff: Folktales of Aarne-Thompson Type 122E." D. L. Ashliman's Folklore and Mythology Electronic Texts gives three variants from Norway, Poland and Germany. A troll or wolf is thwarted in its attempt to stop goats from going out to find food. The classic Norwegian tale is from Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe, Norske Folkeeventyr, translated by George Webbe Dasent in Popular Tales from the Norse, 2nd edition (London: George Routledge and Sons, n.d.), no. 37, pp. 275-276. Translation revised by D. L. Ashliman.

"The Annotated Three Billy Goats Gruff," annotated by Heidi Anne Heiner in, with information on similar tales across cultures, modern interpretations, and other background. See reference to Richard Chase's Grandfather Tales, above, in which a child compares the Appalachian and Norwegian tales. A big difference is that the prey aren't eaten in the European tales, but trick the predator so they can escape.

Last update: 11/19/19   |    Top of Page


Return to AppLit Folktale Index

Complete List of AppLit Pages on Folklore

AppLit Home

Site Index