Diary of a Young Naturalist

“Dara’s is an extraordinary voice and vision: brave, poetic, ethical, lyrical, strong enough to have made him heard and admired from a young age.” —ROBERT MACFARLANE
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A Buzzfeed Best Book of the Month

From sixteen-year-old Dara McAnulty, a globally renowned figure in the youth climate activist movement, comes a memoir about loving the natural world and fighting to save it.

Diary of a Young Naturalist chronicles the turning of a year in Dara’s Northern Ireland home patch. Beginning in spring—when “the sparrows dig the moss from the guttering and the air is as puffed out as the robin’s chest”—these diary entries about his connection to wildlife and the way he sees the world are vivid, evocative, and moving.

As well as Dara’s intense connection to the natural world, Diary of a Young Naturalist captures his perspective as a teenager juggling exams, friendships, and a life of campaigning. We see his close-knit family, the disruptions of moving and changing schools, and the complexities of living with autism. “In writing this book,” writes Dara, “I have experienced challenges but also felt incredible joy, wonder, curiosity and excitement. In sharing this journey my hope is that people of all generations will not only understand autism a little more but also appreciate a child’s eye view on our delicate and changing biosphere.”

Winner of the Wainwright Prize for UK nature writing and already sold into more than a dozen territories, Diary of a Young Naturalist is a triumphant debut from an important new voice.

Publish Date
9 × 6 × 0.25 in
12 oz

Dara McAnulty

Dara McAnulty is the author Diary of a Young Naturalist. He is the recipient of the Wainwright Prize for nature writing. Dara lives with his mum, dad, brother Lorcan, sister Bláthnaid and rescue greyhound Rosie in County Down, Northern Ireland.

Praise and Prizes

  • “McAnulty, 17, is fast becoming one of Britain and Ireland’s most acclaimed nature writers for work that is brimming with his passion as well as open about his autism … [Diary of a Young Naturalist is] uplifting.”

    The New York Times
  • Diary of a Young Naturalist is a remarkable book, the most moving memoir I have read in years.”

    Minneapolis Star Tribune
  • “For such a young author, McAnulty displays an astounding ability to capture and articulate his feelings and the nuances of the natural world, and his sincere compassion and lyrical prose captivate … A heartfelt, uplifting, hopeful memoir from a talented new voice in nature writing.”

    Kirkus Reviews
    starred review
  • “McAnulty, an award-winning young climate activist in Northern Ireland with a large, international following, shares his diary of evocative, thoughtful, and utterly charming nature observations … His affinity for patient contemplation outdoors spurs him to a degree of watchfulness that eludes many and contributes to his insightful commentary about what he sees and what he’s learned about the land … Infused with joy, this is a title to linger over, one that will inspire readers to appreciate the living world.”

  • “At once a lush and moving mediation and an electric clarion call to action, Diary of a Young Naturalist is a kaleidoscope of sensory delights. McAnulty’s year of observing barn owls, cowslips, bracket fungus, springtails, corncrakes, and the exquisite rendering of summer’s first blackberries (just to name a few)—make for a superbly rendered peek into a most extraordinary life. Each page vibrates with a hum of tenderness and bright possibilities for readers to take stock and joyful note of the world around them. This book will change your life if you let it. Go on, let it.”

    Aimee Nezhukumatathil
    author of World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments
  • “Dara’s is an extraordinary voice and vision: brave, poetic, ethical, lyrical, strong enough to have made him heard and admired from a young age.”

    Robert Macfarlane
    author of Underland: A Deep Time Journey
  • “A combination of nature book and memoir, a warm portrait of a close-knit family and a coming-of-age story … Simple, gorgeous sentences unfurl, one after another.”

    The Guardian
  • “A perfect spring read … [Diary of a Young Naturalist] embodies the bittersweet, tenacious hope of a young person growing up in an age of climate catastrophe on a beautiful planet.”

    Sarah Neilson
  • “McAnulty joins the ranks of those whose work seeks acceptance of non-neurotypical thought and demonstrates that people with autism contribute singularly authentic, and essential, human perspectives. In the case of McAnulty, it is a perspective of unfettered adoration for plants and animals that rebuts a status quo of marginalization and suppression … Over and over again, McAnulty reminds us that our most immediate environment lies within our own minds—and that between each one of us is the same cherished diversity we can also find by leaving a bucket of murky water in the yard and seeing what arrives.”

    Sierra Magazine
  • “In this stunning debut … McAnulty delivers a galvanizing love letter to nature … The author’s lush prose enchants as he chronicles a year of campaigning for climate justice and exploring the vastness of Northern Ireland’s outdoors … This should be required reading.”

    Publishers Weekly
  • “Lyrical and often dazzling … Voices like his—and books like this one—empower us to appreciate and protect our planet.”

    Scientific American
  • “Dara McAnulty was just 14 years old when he began Diary of a Young Naturalist, one of 2021’s most notable nature-writing books … Its tender observations draw on a wealth of knowledge about various topics, including science, natural history, and Celtic mythology, while documenting McAnulty’s work as a burgeoning climate activist.”

    Outside Magazine
    “2021 Outsiders of the Year”
  • Diary of a Young Naturalist brims with curiosity, heartache, and joy … Each entry reads like a poem. McAnulty’s gift for language and his willingness to peel away layers of self-doubt and self-consciousness through his observations of the natural world are breathtaking.”

    Elizabeth B. Jones, EuropeNow
  • “Dara McAnulty’s book fully transforms you into his life as a curious kid who is fascinated with the world around him. His beautifully written story reiterates our immense connection with nature and its need to protect it for future generations.”

    Hannah Testa
  • “I am struck by the passion and unwavering focus of Dara McAnulty’s vision of the natural world and our relationship to it. As we face the potential of imminent climate collapse, we need as many and diverse voices as possible to help us understand how our bond with the natural world isn’t just comforting, but life-sustaining. This is a book that will change you and that could change the world if enough of us pay attention to it.”

    Stephen Sparks
    Point Reyes Books
  • “Intimate, sensitive, deeply felt … [McAnulty’s] prose is both spirited and spiritual, performing an intensive phenomenological survey of the wildlife around his home, bringing the reader into deep, occasionally uncomfortably close communion with the insects, plants and, above all, the birds of Northern Ireland… . The depth of his feeling illuminates every page of this miraculous memoir. It’s a book that succeeds in describing the deep and complex pleasure of immersion in nature.”

    The Observer (UK)
  • “Wise, lyrical, and well-researched … McAnulty’s way of experiencing the world, his candid enthusiasm, his powers of observation, his passion for nature—all are being rediscovered by a world population forced to stop short and take stock… . Reading this marvellous diary leaves me with the impression that whatever the future holds, with young people like McAnulty coming to the fore it will be in safer hands.”

    Irish Times
  • “If planet earth has any chance of surviving the depredations of global capitalism, it rests in the intensity and commitment of the younger generations, teenage climate activists like Greta Thunberg and Dara McAnulty … In Diary of a Young Naturalist McAnulty gets at some of the reasons why they’re able to maintain faith in the possibility of change as he records his life-giving daily connections to the natural world over the course of a year in Northern Ireland.”

    Literary Hub
  • “Like reading William Blake, or Ted Hughes, [this] really is a strange and magical experience… . [Diary of a Young Naturalist] will surely be one of the most original and talked about nature books, or any books, this year.”

    Daily Mail (UK)
  • “[McAnulty’s] lyrical descriptions of birds, insects, landscape, and seascapes are beyond his years, yet he also candidly relates the teenage angst of dealing with bullying and trying to find a place in the world.”

    Library Journal
  • “This book is very pertinent. It’s a diary but essentially timeless. It’s about enduring, it’s about passion, beauty and connection. It’s really, really special.”

    Chris Packham, author of Fingers in the Sparkle Jar
  • “A beautifully written, profoundly important classic of nature writing that will ignite a passion for the wild in every reader. A stunning achievement. I adored it.”

    Lauren St John, author of The White Giraffe
  • “A raw and beautifully written memoir, McAnulty shares his sensory encounters with nature, his enthusiasm, his struggles with school and challenges with advocacy. The reader emerges from this diary with a better understanding of autism and awe for McAnulty’s extraordinary voice”.