Texas Bluebonnet Award 2014-2015

Resources for the TBA Nominees

Neptune Project


The Neptune Project
by Polly Holyoke

Scroll down to find Related Activities & Resources, Book Talk Teasers, Read Alikes, and Book Reviews.

Readers Theater Script – Neptune Project (PDF)


Polly Holyoke’s homepage. This site includes information about the author, a synopsis of The Neptune Project and information on the sequel. Ms. Holyoke’s website has vast resources on dolphins, sharks, and other ocean life. She has included links to sites with vast amounts of information:

Photo gallery of Nere’s undersea world:

Youtube video of trainer using hand signals to train a dolphin. The hand signals are very clear:

Polly Holyoke facebook page:

Interview with Polly Holyoke.  This site has an excellent picture of the author in the ocean: http://hobbitsies.net/2013/05/the-neptune-project-by-polly-holyoke-interview-giveaway/

Interview with Polly Holyoke:

Class of 2k13 blog Interview with Polly Holyoke:

25 things you might not know about me at Me, My Shelf and I interview with Polly Holyoke:

Interview with Polly Holyoke:

Polly talks about reading, writing and being a super nerd:

How writing what I didn’t know launched me on the adventure of a lifetime: http://nerdybookclub.wordpress.com/tag/polly-holyoke/

My writing process:

Five cool factoids about Polly:

Dolphins sounds:

Discussion questions for The Neptune Project:

Neptune Project scavenger hunt:

Scavenger hunt answers:

Trivia test about the sea (scroll down):

Spaghetti-octopus dogs:

Keep away from the shark craft:

Dolphin crafts:

Dolphin mask:

Shark crafts:

Shark fins:

Shark mask:

Starfish crafts:

Octopus crafts:

Squid crafts:

Jellyfish crafts:

Whale crafts:

Online ocean animal quiz:

Photos of underwater creatures:

Create an ocean motion:

Coral reef photos:

Online shark quiz:

Ocean animals online game: http://www.sheppardsoftware.com/content/animals/quizzes/kidscorner/animal_games_water_surface_btn_large.html

Online ocean exploration game with points:

Discussion questions and activities:

The crafts links above for each animal have at around 10 or more crafts for that animal.

If you could through genetic manipulation get some survival characteristics from another animal, which animal and characteristics would you choose and why? Draw a picture of how you would look if it changes your appearance.

Nere does not want to be a leader. Everyone wants her to lead them. Why do you think they want her? What are the characteristics of a good leader? If you were Nere would you want to lead the group?

Have a debate on the moral implications of altering someone’s genes without their knowledge.

If you had the opportunity to read someone’s mind would you? Why or why not? Would you see having telepathy as a gift or a curse? Why?

Go to the photo gallery of Nere’s undersea world listed in the links above. There are 20 photos. Guess what each photo is of from the partial picture. Then click on the photo to see the whole picture.

The cover of the book in the UK is different from the cover in the US. Why do you think they changed the cover? Who is Neptune? There is a clue to this on the UK’s cover. The two covers can be found on Polly Holyoke’s website.

Wiggle your ears. On the link above to Five cool factoids about Polly she gives directions on how to wiggle your ears. She says anyone can do it.

Use Polly Holyoke’s discussion questions from the link above.

Do the Neptune Project scavenger hunt using the link above.

Take the trivia test about the sea.

Go to the dolphin sounds link and listen to the different sounds dolphins make.

Play the undersea survival game. This is best played in the gym or in a large open area.  Make a kelp forest area. This can be done by hanging green streamers down or by marking the area off on the floor. Make a cave area and a coral reef area. Hang some objects or scatter some things on the floor to represent food such as fish , lobsters, etc. Using the links above make dolphin masks and sharks fins for students to wear. Some students will be underwater people like Nere, some sharks, and others dolphins. The people will need nerf balls or something soft to throw to emulate spears. The way this works is the people have to be able to hunt for food. They are safe in the cave, the kelp forest and when they are surrounded by dolphins as a pod of dolphins can fend off sharks.  Players may not stay in the safe places as they need to hunt for food. Sharks will try to get the people. People can throw the nerf balls to simulate shooting the sharks. In order to kill a shark the person must hit the shark on the head or torso. The limbs/fins will just wound it.  The object of the game is for the people to eat and survive.  There are directions for making the masks and shark fins in the above links.


Front flap and back cover

Readers’ theater from TBA website


The sequel to The Neptune Project will be coming out April 2015. The Neptune Challenge will continue the story of Nere and her friends’ undersea adventures. Readers will find out more about what life is like for the Neptune kids at Safety Harbor and they will learn more about Dai and his mysterious origins. I promise that you will see all the same characters and dolphins in the Neptune sequel, and you’ll meet some intriguing new ones. (pollyholyoke.com)

Suspenseful, Attention-grabbing, Science fiction, Dystopias:

Haddix, Margaret Peterson. Among the free. When thirteen-year-old Luke Garner unwittingly sets off a rebellion which sweeps the country and ousts the Population Police from power, he quickly realizes that the new regime is corrupt and he may hold the only key to true freedom. (NoveList)

Haddix, Margaret Peterson. Among the brave. In a society that allows families to have only two children, a group of third-borns tries to save themselves and others like them. (NoveList)

Reese, Jenn. Mirage. Aluna, Hoku, and their friends must travel across the desert to warn the Equians that the maniacal Karl Strand is out to conquer them, but to get the Equians to listen they must win the Thunder Trials, a challenge that seems impossible. (NoveList)

Reese, Jenn. Above World. In a future of high technology and genetic modification the Coral Kampii, like legendary mermaids, live isolated from the Above World, but when the devices that allow them to breathe underwater start to fail, thirteen-year-old Aluna and her friend Hoku go to that forbidden place to find help. (NoveList)

Christopher, John. The white mountains. Young Will Parker and his companions make a perilous journey toward an outpost of freedom where they hope to escape from the ruling Tripods, who capture mature human beings and make them docile, obedient servants. (NoveList)

Christopher, John. The city of gold and lead. Three boys set out on a secret mission to penetrate the City of the Tripods and learn more about these strange beings that rule  the earth. (NoveList)

Kade, J. V. Bot wars. In a futuristic world where humans and robots are at war, a boy goes on a search to find his missing military father. (NoveList)

Landon, Kristen. The limit. When his family exceeds its legal debt limit, thirteen-year-old Matt is sent to the Federal Debt Rehabilitation Agency workhouse, where he discovers illicit activities are being carried out using the children who have been placed there. (NoveList)

Collins, Suzanne. Gregor the overlander. When eleven-year-old Gregor and his two-year-old sister are pulled into a strange underground world, they trigger an epic battle involving men, bats, rats, cockroaches, and spiders while on a quest foretold by ancient prophecy. (NoveList)

Collins, Suzanne. The hunger games. In a future North America, where the rulers of Panem maintain control through an annual televised survival competition pitting young people from each of the twelve districts against one another, sixteen-year-old Katniss’s skills are put to the test when she voluntarily takes her younger sister’s place. (NoveList)

Attention-grabbing, Science fiction, Children of scientists:

Bell, Sophie. The ultra violets. Acquiring superpowers through a genetics experiment gone awry, Cheri, Scarlet, Opaline, and Iris become fashionable champions for justice while their scientist mothers diligently work in the secret lab where their powers were created. (NoveList)

Stead, Rebecca. When you reach me. As her mother prepares to be a contestant on the 1980s television game show, “The $20,000 Pyramid,” a twelve-year-old New York City girl tries to make sense of a series of mysterious notes received from an anonymous source that seems to defy the laws of time and space. (NoveList)

Stead, Rebecca. First light. When twelve-year-old Peter and his family arrive in Greenland for his father’s research, he stumbles upon a secret his mother has been hiding from him all his life, and begins an adventure he never imagines possible. (NoveList)

Dolphins and suspense:

Dunmore, Helen. Ingo. As they search for their missing father near their Cornwall home, Sapphy and her brother Conor learn about their family’s connection to the domains of air and of water. (NoveList)

Science fiction, attention-grabbing, and undersea colonies:

Falls, Kat. Dark life. In a near apocalyptic future, rising oceans have resulted in overcrowding around the world. As a result, a few brave pioneers have taken to the sea and started an underwater colony. Ty, who has spent his entire life tending to his family’s underwater farm, hopes to have a homestead of his own someday. But when his home is attacked by outlaws, Ty finds himself teaming up with a topsider and facing down a deadly rogue government. (NoveList)

Falls, Kat. Rip tide. Ty and Gemma return to the subsea frontier when Ty’s parents are kidnapped by the mysterious Surfs, an abduction that forces the teens into an alliance with the outlaws of the Seablite Gang. (NoveList)

Science fiction, suspenseful and survival:

Pfeffer, Susan Beth. Life as we knew it. Through journal entries sixteen-year-old Miranda describes her family’s struggle to survive after a meteor hits the moon, causing worldwide tsunamis, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions. (NoveList)

Dashner, James. The scorch trials. After surviving horrific conditions in the Maze, Thomas is entrapped, along with nineteen other boys, in a scientific experiment designed to observe their responses and gather data believed to be essential for the survival of the human race. (NoveList)

Dashner, James. The journal of curious letters. Thirteen-year-old Atticus “Tick” Higginbottom begins receiving mysterious letters from around the world signed only “M.G.,” and the clues contained therein lead him on a journey to the perilous 13th Reality and a confrontation with evil Mistress Jane. (NoveList)

Science fiction, suspenseful, and genetic engineering:

Nylund, Eric S. The resisters. When twelve-year-olds Madison and Felix kidnap him, Ethan learns that the Earth has been taken over by aliens and that all the adults in the world are under mind control. (NoveList)


The Neptune Project. By Polly Holyoke. 2013. 352p. Disney/Hyperion, $16.99 (9781423157564). Gr. 4–7. (Booklist Online, January 17, 2014).

Here is a dystopian novel with a neat underwater twist. Nere and her mother, Gillian, live in a world almost destroyed by global warming and under the thumb of a totalitarian government, the Western Collective. Still, Nere can concentrate on her passion for dolphins (with whom she can telepathically communicate) until the ax falls. First, the government decides to move the residents of her area away from the sea. Then, Nere learns that she has been part of the Neptune Project. Gillian has altered Nere’s genes so that she can be one of the first humans to live entirely underwater. With relocation imminent, Nere is given an injection that finishes her transformation. But no one has taken into account Nere’s wishes. Feeling betrayed, Nere isn’t sure that she wants to participate, nor does she want to swim across the sea to join the rest of the colony. Although the writing is pedestrian, the adventure element is a real draw. That Nere can experience regular kid situations throughout all of this—friend issues, parental problems—makes the story relatable, even if her best pals are (totally terrific) dolphins.— Ilene Cooper  

Horn Book:
Holyoke, Polly The Neptune Project
345 pp. Hyperion 2013. ISBN 978-1-4231-5756-4
(3) 4-6 In a devastated post–global warming country overtaken by a tyrannical government, Nere and her classmates, known as the Neptune children, are genetically altered to survive underwater and create a new human colony beneath the ocean. This fast-paced science fiction adventure with well-developed characters offers a vivid and exciting oceanic setting complete with villains, dangerous sea creatures, and protective dolphin friends. (Fall 2013 Guide) Reprinted from The Horn Book Guide by permission of The Horn Book, Inc., www.hbook.com

School Library Journal:
Holyoke, Polly. The Neptune Project

Gr 6–8—In this dystopian adventure, Earth can no longer sustain life in many places and the United States has devolved into a totalitarian government. Nere lives by the ocean and has always had an affinity for water. She thinks nothing of her comfort with the sea until the day her mother breaks the news that Nere is a product of a genetic-mutations experiment called the Neptune Project. Now the government wants to close down the project and kill all involved. Nere and two other children are given injections that finalize their mutations and enable them to breathe water. Their journey through the ocean to asylum isn’t easy, but with some help from Nere’s telepathically linked dolphin friends and other Neptune Project victims the kids just might make it-if they can stop quarreling among themselves. This is an enjoyable book, with lots of adventure, suspense, and underwater scenes. The novel hits the target audience right between the eyes on “hot button” issues, especially global warming and its consequences, but should be popular with readers who are looking for a slightly different dystopian adventure or those who just dream of living in the ocean and playing with dolphins.—Saleena L. Davidson, South Brunswick Public Library, Monmouth Junction, NJ

2 thoughts on “Neptune Project

  1. Pingback: Welcome! | Texas Bluebonnet Award 2014-2015

  2. Pingback: Diving into “The Neptune Project” | Not Going Postal

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