cover image Sody Sallyratus

Sody Sallyratus

Teri Sloat. Dutton Books, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-525-45609-4

In this tall tale, members of an Appalachian family try to obtain some sody sallyratus, ""which is what they used to call bakin' soda,"" so they can make biscuits. One by one, a boy, girl, old man and old woman tramp over hill and dale to the general store; each stops to nibble berries and gets eaten by a hungry bear. The sole remaining family member, a pet squirrel, must outmaneuver the bear and rescue the foursome. (It's a happy ending for all-the bear runs off after spitting out the folks.) Sloat (The Thing That Bothered Farmer Brown) affects a hillbilly twang in her lively narration; her version is truer to the original (in Richard Chase's 1948 Grandfather Tales) than the spirited retelling offered by Joanne and Kenn Compton in their 1995 Sody Sallyratus. Sloat's version features detail-rich illustrations that fill every inch of space. The artist sets the mood with a cornucopia of autumnal colors against parchment-tone backdrops, then frames the scenery with borders of lashed-together saplings. On the closing page, there's even a biscuit recipe-and though it takes a while to stir the batter ""till the dough follows the fork 'round the bowl,"" the results are as toothsome as the tale. Ages 4-8. (Jan.)