Bob Weir, rhythm guitarist and singer for the Grateful Dead, and his sister, Wendy Weir, combine their talents once again to create a story to inspire and educate young readers about the need to preserve the fragile balance of an endangered environment-the coral reef.

Bob and Wendy Weir's first collaboration, PANTHER DREAM: A Story of the African Rainforest, was named a 1991 Notable Children's Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies by the Joint Committee of the Children's Book Council and the National Committee of Teachers of Social Studies.

BARU BAY: Australia (Hyperion Books for Children; May 8, 1995; $19.95), a book and musical/storytelling cassette package, is an intriguing combination of realism and fantasy set in Australia. A place of raw beauty unchanged for thousands of years, life in Baru Bay, Australia, can be as serene as the water at dawn or as rough as a storm surge during a hurricane.

The Aboriginal people who live in Baru Bay are descendants of people who have lived in the area since the Dreamtime, the time of creation in the Aboriginal culture. It is this world that Tamara, a young Australian girl, sets out to explore. During her adventures, she not only learns about ancestral traditions of the Land Down Under but also discovers the natural beauty as she snorkels through the coral reef.

In October 1992, Bob and Wendy Weir traveled to Australia to research BARU BAY beginning an experience that influences their lives to this day. They dove the Great Barrier Reef walked deserted beaches, hiked through rainforests recording the different sounds, and stayed in the Gumatj community with Mandawuy Yunupingu, the leader of the Aboriginal rock band Yothu Yindi.

Thousands of indigenous and traditional coastal cultures are dependent on healthy reefs for survival. Coral reefs are found in 109 countries around the world; it is estimated that in 93 of these countries, the reefs are either destroyed or damaged by human activity. In addition to the direct damage of the coral reefs, destruction of coasts, mangroves, and adjacent tropical rainforests also kills living coral organisms as it causes siltation and chemicals to run from the land into the water and out to the reef.

The elements of BARU BAY including pictures and sounds, are all reality-based and are woven together to encourage children's awareness and appreciation for the delicate environment. In addition to its brilliant illustrations, the book includes a map, a key to the illustrations, and a glossary of Aboriginal and coral reef terminology.

The tape features original music by Bob Weir, sounds of the natural Australian locale, and absorbing narration, which fuse together to create an unusual sensory experience of the coral reef and the Australian environment. Bob's narration highlights Side A (16:45 min.), the original music featuring the Baru Dance is on Side B (18:20 min.).

Both Bob Weir and Wendy Weir are environmental activists who share the hope that everyone who reads or listens to their books will appreciate the importance of protecting the earth's &agile environment. They continue to use the proceeds from the sale of PANTHER DREAM: A Story of the African Rainforest to fund rainforest reforestation and educational projects in Africa. They will use proceeds from the sale of BARU BAY: Australia to benefit Coral Forest and the Yothu Yindi Foundation. The Walt Disney Company has arranged to have a tree planted for every one used in the printing of this book.

BABU BAY: Australia
By Bob Weir and Wendy Weir
Illustrated in full color by Wendy Weir
With music by Bob Weir
Publication date: May 8, 1995
Ages 4-8
40 pages
Trade edition (book and cassette): l-5628222
Price: $19.95
Available through bookstores and from Coral Forest

Ocean Planet Exhibition Floorplan

gene carl feldman ( (301) 286-9428
Judith Gradwohl, Smithsonian Institution (Curator/Ocean Planet)