Diary of a Young Naturalist

21,000+ Reviews
Bookshop.org has the highest-rated customer service of any bookstore in the world
Product Details
$25.00  $23.25
Milkweed Editions
Publish Date
6.0 X 9.1 X 1.0 inches | 1.05 pounds

Earn by promoting books

Earn money by sharing your favorite books through our Affiliate program.

Become an affiliate
About the Author
Dara McAnulty is the author of Diary of a Young Naturalist, forthcoming Spring 2021. He lives with his mum, dad, brother Lorcan, sister Bláthnaid, and rescue greyhound Rosie in County Down, Northern Ireland. He is the recipient of the Wainwright Prize for nature writing. Dara's love for nature, his activism, and his honesty about autism have earned him a huge social media following from across the world, and many accolades. In 2017, he was awarded BBC Springwatch "Unsprung Hero" and Birdwatch magazine "Local Hero"; in 2018, he was awarded "Animal Hero" of the year by the Daily Mirror and became ambassador for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the iWill campaign; and in 2019, he became a Young Ambassador for the Jane Goodall Institute and became the youngest-ever recipient of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds Medal for conservation.
Praise for Diary of a Young Naturalist

"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." --New York Times

"Diary of a Young Naturalist is a remarkable book, the most moving memoir I have read in years." --Minneapolis Star Tribune

"Through a year of lyrical and profound diary entries, McAnulty describes his unique way of perceiving the world around him and his connection to nature." --BuzzFeed, "Best Book of June 2021"

"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"

"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 with the natural world over the course of a year in Northern Ireland." --Literary Hub, "A Nonfiction Book You Should Read This Summer"

"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, Shondaland.com

"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

"Through a year in his home patch in Northern Ireland, Dara spent the seasons writing. These moving entries about his connection to wildlife and the way he sees the world are raw in their telling." --Yale Climate Connections, "12 Books to Get Your Summer Reading Started"

"Diary of a Young Naturalist is a call to an awakening that draws on and activates powerful imagination, where nature also lives . . . This is a book that offers another way to come to the truth of what is happening. Importantly--crucially--it shows what is possible through small but repeated acts of perfect observation of the here and now." --ClimateCultures

"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

"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

"[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

"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 patience 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." --Booklist

"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".--NatureBookGuide.com

"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."--EuropeNow

"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

"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 our need to protect it for future generations." --Hannah Testa, Hannah4Change

"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

"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

"As well as showcasing his love and observation of nature, [Diary of a Young Naturalist is also a personal journey--dealing with family life, changing schools, bullying and his experience of autism." --BBC

"Absolutely tremendous! A nature diary by a young man who writes so entirely from the heart and reminds us of the joy to be found in the everyday awe that nature gifts us. I can't recommend this book enough!" --Becky Doherty, Northshire Books

"Dara and his book give me hope that all is not yet lost in our struggle to save the creatures around us and the home we all live in together." --Tom Beans, Dudley's Bookshop Cafe

"The beauty of butterflies, mass of tadpoles, cloud of hover flies, screech of an owl, crackling of a raven, the sight of a patch of clover or buttercups or bluebells and their story of enchantment. Dara, the author, has the ability to see equality and beauty in all living things. Even though Dara has been bullied, possibly because he has autism, he has found the realization that something horrible can be calmed by simply listening to crickets chirping. He has discovered the importance of grace and gratitude in our lives that nature and family can bring. The book is part memoir, part activism, all for us to learn the possibilities that nature can bring to our lives and maybe help save the planet. Fantastic book." --Mollie Mitchell, HearthFireBooks

"At sixteen an internationally recognized wildlife activist, McAnulty is in many ways the Northern Irish counterpart of Sweden's Greta Thunberg. He is also like her in being on the spectrum, and his Diary is an often wrenching account of the anguish he suffers trying to navigate the noise of confusing social demands and the bullying by his schoolmates. The same sensitivity that makes ordinary life painful, however, makes nature a place of solace and wonder. McAnulty experiences the wild thoroughly and deeply--studying a centuries' old great oak, he feels 'our rhythms intertwine'--and evokes its sounds, sights, and smells in language as lyrical as it is scientifically precise; McAnulty is an expert in both the habits of butterflies, otters, and birds ranging from ravens to corncrakes and hen harriers (he was smitten with raptors at age six), and the folklore associated with them. But is this enough to raise awareness of our essential bonds to nature and stop the relentless 'growing for growth' that has hurt so many of the creatures McAnulty loves? Is 'noticing an act of rebellion, a resistance?' McAnulty's passion and eloquence--his ability to show us, and make us care about, how 'a wall is an entire world to an insect, ' for instance--makes the answer a resounding 'yes.'" --Laurie Greer, Politics & Prose

"In this wonderful book by the young activist, Dara McAnulty, we follow the arc of the year from his fourteenth to his fifteenth birthday. His writing sings with his love and understanding of the nature surrounding him in his home in Northern Ireland. His observations, detailed and lyrical, bring this world alive to the reader. But I also loved his writing about school and family. At times heartbreaking--as an autistic kid, he often struggles to make himself fit in, sometimes without success--but his lively family's closeness and adventurousness provide support while nature provides consolation. As the year progresses, we watch him become surer in his abilities to make a difference in the world." --Suzanne Morgan, Politics & Prose

"A beautifully inspiring work of nature writing and memoir. Though only sixteen years old, Dara McAnulty exudes a wisdom and passion for our natural world that is infectious. Through his diary entries, we get to partake in the unique joys of seeing a bird in flight or the wind whip through our hair on a hike; we are also privy to the stress of exams and his life with autism. Diary of a Young Naturalist is a beautiful little book--full of joys, fears, hope, and life." --Caleb Masters, Bookmarks

"Dara McAnulty is passionate about nature and writes about it in gorgeous, poetic language . . . his entry for Saturday 15 September beings: 'The first fallen leaves are pirouetting at my feet, rising, tumbling, skittering, falling again.' The book chronicles the fourteenth year in the life of this singular young man. McAnulty is grounded in the natural world, and is also an activist, recognized around the world as a leader in the youth climate movement. He lives in Northern Ireland with his parents and two young siblings. He says, 'We are all autistic, all except Dad--he's the odd one out.' Part of the life of the diary chronicles are the challenges of living as an autistic person. This includes a particular lens on the world, as well as a great deal of misunderstanding and bullying. Read the book to enjoy the beautiful language; to be inspired by what the activism of one person can accomplish; to be challenged to expand your understanding of autism; and to live into ways you might make a difference in the world." --Sally Wizik Wills, Beagle and Wolf Books & Bindery

"If there was one nonfiction book I would give to school-age kids for Autism Acceptance Month, it would be this. Not only is McAnulty a fledgling world-changer, he's a brilliant naturalist and future professional ecologist. This book follows him through three seasons, where he and his family explore the wild--and not so wild--areas of Northern Ireland and Scotland. McAnulty's utmost passion is ornithology, and it shows in his profuse enthusiasm for our fine feathered friends. With colorful prose and evocative imagery, McAnulty makes case after case for introducing programs to help conserve what we already have, and to further introduce (or reintroduce, in some cases) natural life that bolsters and revives ecosystems already in place. What's more, he ruminates on how autism has released in a flood this passion for our wild world . . . More kids, more adults, more people need to read this book to understand how 'disabled' simply means 'differently abled.' . . . I'll be recommending this book to every single person I know and putting it into the hands of every patron I come across." --Caitlin Theroux, Thomaston Public Library

"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

"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)

"Captivating . . . [McAnulty has] a Lawrentian eye for the natural world; goshawks, robins and osprey spring from the page. . . . A brilliant achievement."--Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)

"A torrent of pure, unmediated fervour . . . This is writing at its wild and unruly best; McAnulty's prose is shot through with the imagination of a poet. His sentences race, roar, and overflow with joy."--The Lancet

"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

"McAnulty's writing glows with his deep sympathy for the natural world."--Tim Flannery, author of Here on Earth: A Natural History of the Planet

"This is an astonishingly assured book for one so young. Charting a year in [McAnulty's] life from spring to winter, it beautifully and candidly conveys his intense connection to the natural world, from the perspective of a teenager juggling exams, family and friendship alongside his campaigning. He smashes stereotypes about autism, alongside gorgeous observations of everything from dandelions and wagtails to goshawks and horseflies."--The Bookseller (UK)

"McAnulty weaves a wonderful web of words in his first book. . . . It is impossible not to be drawn into his world. . . . [Diary of a Young Naturalist] gives the reader an intense insight into Dara's love of the outdoors, nature and how it and his writing are both intertwined with his autism."--Impartial Reporter (UK)