Diary of a Young Naturalist
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.
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Praise and Prizes
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”