An Eco-Rock Odyssey From Taylor Barton

“It is the work I’m most proud of, of everything I have done in my entire career,”
Taylor Barton has married music and text in a new children’s book inspired by the BP oil spill.

With the release on Tuesday of “Pedro ’n’ Pip,” a rock ’n’ roll odyssey about a girl and an octopus who partner to clean up the oceans, Taylor Barton, a singer and songwriter who has released multiple albums, offers a 25-year-old creation in an innovative new form that marries text, images, and sound. 

Ms. Barton, who lives in Amagansett, rewrote “Pedro ’n’ Pip” two years ago, she said, after being commissioned by the Environmental Defense Fund to create an educational work following BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which killed 11 people and poured millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. 

“It is the work I’m most proud of, of everything I have done in my entire career,” she said. “My biggest intention is to have it as a course in sustainability in middle schools across the country.” 

“I don’t know how many people up north are really aware of how devastated the Louisiana swamplands were by the BP oil spill,” Ms. Barton said. “But it is significant. It’s a big problem that needs to be addressed, always. But I like to stay on the positive side, and teach kids how their contribution to cleaning up anything in the water keeps our rock ’n’ roll octopuses happy.”

Along with an expression of her passion for environmentalism, Ms. Barton is particularly excited about the fusion of book and sound recording enabled by tablets such as the iPad. In the e-book format, with a touch of the “play” button on pages interspersed throughout, 14 recordings that accompany the story play on one’s tablet. 

“This is actually in the book,” she said of the music. “You get it on iBooks, you start reading, and right there you click the song; you read the lyrics while you’re hearing the song. That part is so, so cool. I’ve always been trying to work a story and music together, and I think all kinds of people are going to see that this is awonderful new format for telling a story. That also lends itself to the school experience, because so many kids learn on iPads now.” 

The songs can also be downloaded separately at the Apple iTunes store, and the printed book is available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble’s online store.

“Pedro ’n’ Pip” was conceived long before the BP oil spill. “I was 27,” Ms. Barton said. “I went on a trip with a friend to Cozumel, Mexico. The friend went scuba diving, and I fell asleep and started dreaming about this octopus that started speaking. I came home, and this was the first thing I ever wrote, these songs and this story about an oil spill and this little girl who wanted to clean up the ocean.” 

She financed the production of the book and music with a Kickstarter campaign, to which many artists contributed. “Artists supporting artists, getting it done,” she said. 

Along with Ms. Barton, the score features members of the a cappella group the Persuasions, Christine Ohlman, who is a singer on “Saturday Night Live,” Jenni Muldaur, David Broza, Robbie Wyckoff, Ella Moffly, Jillette Johnson, and a band led by the guitarist G.E. Smith, who is Ms. Barton’s husband. The music was recorded at studios in Manhattan and Weehawken, N.J., as well as in East Hampton, where Cynthia Daniels also mixed and mastered it at her MonkMusic Studios. 

“This was such a collective experience,” Ms. Barton said, “and as I said, a long time, from 25 years ago to now, bringing it to iPads.” 

In its e-book format, “Pedro ’n’ Pip” includes a link to the Environmental Defense Fund’s website, with an encouragement to donate, “because it is a story about bringing kids tools to clean up the ocean,” Ms. Barton said. The print edition also includes the fund’s website address. A portion of proceeds from the book will be donated to the organization.