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Diary of a Young Naturalist

4.44  ·  Rating details ·  908 ratings  ·  188 reviews
Diary of a Young Naturalist chronicles the turning of 15-year-old Dara McAnulty's world. From spring and through a year in his home patch in Northern Ireland, Dara spent the seasons writing. These vivid, evocative and moving diary entries about his connection to wildlife and the way he sees the world are raw in their telling. "I was diagnosed with Asperger's/autism aged fi ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published June 5th 2020 by Little Toller Books (first published May 21st 2020)
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Shreya Ganguly I would not say that this book has a particular age of readers. It truly is a book for all ages. For me, the book is a memoir with diary entries and v…moreI would not say that this book has a particular age of readers. It truly is a book for all ages. For me, the book is a memoir with diary entries and vivid descriptions of nature and the teenage experience as an autistic writer and naturalist. The author of Diary of a Young Naturalist, Dara McAnulty, has a deep fascination for nature and the blossoming world around him. He wrote this book between the ages of thirteen and fifteen so I would recommend this piece to readers of that age. Honestly, adults can take away just as much from his writing and it is perfect for anyone twelve years and older. (less)

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May 18, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Diary of a Young Naturalist by teenager Dara McAnulty made a splash when it won the 2020 Wainwright Prize for nature writing, a deserved win, it charts a year in his life, the seasons in Northern Ireland, living in County Fermanagh and then the family move to County Down with its Mourne mountains, as he turned from 14 to 15 years old. His prose is incredible, an immersive experience of being autistic, as is everyone in his family except for his dad, how it felt to be bullied, being socially awkw ...more
Olive Fellows (abookolive)
Nov 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nature
A fourteen-year-old wrote this?! Hear more of my thoughts on Booktube! ...more
Diary of a Young Naturalist is what it claims to be, the diary of a passionate young man who loves nature, science, conservation. He also happens to have autism. Actually, his other siblings and mum have autism as well. Fortunately, they all seem to have a strong family bond, built on a love for nature, exploring and, more recently, environmental activism. Dara, mind you, is only sixteen years old.

Dara has a beautiful way with words. I was quite impressed, and jealous, his command of the English
Mar 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written and profoundly moving. This book - chronicling a year in the life of one autistic fifteen-year-old with a passion for nature and a close-knit family - is one of the best books on nature I've ever read, with astonishingly beautiful writing (for any age) as well as powerful emotional intimacy and open vulnerability. (Honestly, I'm in awe - I can't even imagine how good his books will become when he's older! Because this, already, is *amazing.*)

On a personal level, this book mea
Mar 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2020
I have been reading bits and pieces online by Dara for a while now and I'm always impressed with how eloquently he writes.  He sees nature in a way that so few can, he sees beauty in everything (because of Dara I now leave dandelions alone, no more ripping them up) and he has possibly the most patient parents ever,  mine would given me a slap if I started picking apart animal scat to find bugs, instead of freaking out Dara's parents discuss with him what his found.  This book shows that it is th ...more
It is only now that so many of us have lost that connection to the natural world we are starting to realise just how important it is. Time spent outdoors walking along a path, or sitting by the river recharges us in ways that we cannot comprehend, but have a deep need for.

But for some people that connection is much more vivid and real. Dara McAnulty is one of those people. He was diagnosed with Asperger’s and autism just over a decade ago and because he was so different to other children, was th
Alan Teder
September 8, 2020 Update Diary of a Young Naturalist is the winner of the 2020 Wainwright Prize for Nature Writing and Writing on Global Conservation.

Original Review:
Immersive and Poetic Neurodivergent View of Nature
Review of the Little Toller Books hardcover edition (June 2020)
When we (by ‘we’ I mean autistics) get interested in something, most people would call it an ‘obsession’. It really is not an obsession, though. It’s not dangerous, quite the opposite. It’s liberating and essential to the
McAnulty is the UK’s answer to Greta Thunberg: a leader in the youth environmental movement and an impassioned speaker on the love of nature. This is a wonderfully observant and introspective account of his fifteenth year: of disruptions – moving house and school, of outrage at the state of the world and at individual and political indifference, of the complications of being autistic, but also of the joys of everyday encounters with wildlife. It’s easy to forget you’re reading a teenager’s work ...more
Jan 03, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-own
This book is beautiful. The writing style is lyrical and so descriptive. I'll give you a few quotes to illustrate that:

"I keep visualising time as a length of string, with a flame burning at one end that represents the present where we can act and be most alive. The ashes are the past, the intact string is the future."

"Each moment is a picture that will never be identically repeated."

"Spring does something to the inside of you. All things levitate. There's no choice but to move up and forwards."
Fern Adams
Jun 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic! As someone who also is autistic and a nature lover this took me straight back to my teens and trying to juggle moving areas, schools etc. Wanting to fit in but not wanting to fit into what the norm is at the same time. Studying wildlife. This is written incredibly well and I ended up reading it in one sitting. Hope this is the first of many books from Dara!
Michaela Mc dermott
Jul 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
There are very few times that I'm completely captured within the first few pages of a book, yet McAnulty achieved this with ease.
I am still astounded by his knowledge of wildlife around him, not defined or limited to one species.
The skill of this book for me is Dara's ability to intertwine nature, folklore, Irish language and history, then discussing his love and need for the nature and using this as a means of highlighting the importance of protecting our world, local and otherwise.
Diary of a Naturalist

Dara Mac Anulty is a teenager from Northern Ireland on the autism spectrum. He is seventeen years old. His younger brother and sister, and his mom We “are all autistic, except Dad — he’s the odd one out”. He does write a lot about each of his family members, and they all come through as remarkable. This book won him the Wainwright Prize, which celebrates the best nature writing in the UK.

Dara writes with such passion about nature, I felt I had missed out on so much in my lif
Jackie Law
May 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
“Maybe, if we bang our heads against a brick wall for long enough, it will crumble and fall. And maybe the rubble can be used to rebuild something better and more beautiful, enabling our own wildness. Imagine that”

Diary of a Young Naturalist, by Dara McAnulty, is a year long account of the fourteen year old author’s life. It offers an inspiring and uplifting view of nature focusing on flora and small fauna – the insects and birds essential for balance in the ecosystem of which humans are a part.
The Book Sheelf
Jul 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
One of my top reads of 2020. Full review to follow!
Jan 25, 2021 rated it really liked it
I quite simply loved this book. I found it next to impossible to believe that a lad in his mid teens could produce such evocative, lyrical prose detailing his encounters in the natural world. Besides this though, he gives a real insight into his world - he's autistic. And despite the bullying, the social isolation this can bring, he finds his condition a gift he wouldn't change, because it's this that has given him such a rich immersion in the world of nature, and increasingly, activism on behal ...more
Apr 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
What a gorgeously written and emotive account of three seasons’ observation of the world around him from this very young author. He describes in almost sensory detail the wild places he visits with his family, the wildlife and plants he sees there and his responses to these experiences, along with comments on his daily life and inner feelings, his hopes and fears for the world he is growing up in. I feel privileged to have been on these journeys with him.

A few passages that struck me especially:
Trees a Crowd
Jan 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An upcoming book, from an upcoming Trees A Crowd ( guest.

I've been lucky enough to have read a proof copy, and it's beautiful and bold.

Dara shares a great deal more than an older writer might, but perhaps that is what will make the generation to follow us better equipped to save our planet.

Richard Ryan
Jan 23, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This is probably only my 2nd or 3rd outdoorsy book I've read, and the first from a Northern Irish vantage point. Poetic and insightful, not just into the ways of nature but also the internal struggles from someone who is autistic. Poetic and inspiring that has opened up to me lots more places to explore, and indeed lots more books to read! ...more
Oct 23, 2020 rated it liked it
Beautifully written but for some reason it took me a long time to read. Definitely one for any bird watchers to add to their reading list.
Katie {awonderfulbook}
This book was the most amazing surprise to me. I picked it up because it won the Wainwright Prize this year, it's a nature book, and it's written by an Irish writer. The other thing that intrigued me was that he was 13 when he started writing it.

And you wouldn't think it was written by a teenager, because it's so incredibly lyrical and poetic. The opening pages had me hooked, and then I was so drawn in by Dara's family, his difficulties as an autistic person, and his soul-deep love of nature.

Jessica McCann
Nov 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It is rare that I absolutely LOVE a book and yet struggle to write a review. This is one of those rare moments. My words simply will not do it justice. The teenager who authored this memoir has an extraordinary mind and extraordinary writing skills. Not only does McAnulty see and feel the natural world in ways most people do not, he is able to put those senses and feelings into words in a way most people cannot.

As a writer, I was awed by his prose. As a parent, I was moved by his social experie
David Tierney
Jan 11, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Diary of a Young Naturalist breathes passion and resilience, encapsulating the angst that all environmentalists feel to at least some degree, that desire to do more and that fear of not doing enough. Broken up like a daily diary, Dara captures the changes in the seasons around him, what he sees in nature and in his life. He unravels what it's like to be autistic, giving some insight into how he experiences the world, how nature is a place where he finds solace from social anxiety and other child ...more
Demi  Powell
Jun 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
5 star books are rare but this is a unique find. The description of nature is beyond anything I’ve read before. It comes from the heart instead of an English lesson or writing course. Details and feeling that would feel forced coming from someone else.

The insight into Dara’s autism, how he sees the world and copes with it is absolutely fascinating. It’s a wonderful example of harnessing the talents that neuro diversity brings into something truly special, but equally hides nothing from the hard
Dec 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Please note that this review comes from my point of view as an actual autistic.

I honestly don't even really know how to review this, because it's just so unlike anything else I've ever read, in the most wonderful of ways.

Dara's voice is simply magical - Diary of a Young Naturalist is beautifully written and simply captivating. Honestly, I wish my diary sounded even as remotely poetic as this! It felt a little reminiscent of Anne of Green Gables to me, if Anne had had a published diary and was a
May 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I’ve never read a book about someone’s own life by an autistic person before and i kept crying recognizing my own experience in Dara’s words. And his descriptions of everything in the natural world around him make it so real you can smell the rain and woods. Lots of very very interesting nature facts and wonderful descriptions of ways to make being autistic around other autistics work too. I kinda wish I’d bought it, but i read it in two sittings in Toppings.
Jun 21, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: nature
This is good for what it is, mostly a sort of nature diary, but I didn't find it that interesting. It is fairly uneventful and I found it a bit soporific. (Maybe it would be better as an audiobook.) The writing is good, a few passages in particular, but it was usually not good enough to convey the images to me. (Perhaps because I am unfamiliar with most of the species described. I often searched online for images, but this wasn't enough.) Of course McAnulty himself is very impressive. Before rea ...more
Bob Banks
Jun 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. It's beautifully written - and the freshness of the way the author evokes his feelings from beng in the natural world , along with the awkwardness and joy of interactions with other people, really takes me back to when I was a teenager, going through similar struggles and good times. ...more
Lily | Literary Lily
Feb 20, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: autism-rep
ugh I just wish I could have loved this book more than I did!

Dara's writing is wonderful and it really does transport you to Northern Ireland and the natural areas he is exploring. I loved how he wrote about his and his family's autism, with such care and warmth, but still being honest. As an autistic person myself, I found it hard at times reading about his bullying and mental health struggles as they are oh so familiar, but I loved hearing about the hope that pulled him through. This is a rea
Apr 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
As ever this review also appears on my blog at:

There are a number of things that struck me when reading Dara McAnulty’s new book that follows a year of his diaries as a young naturalist in Northern Ireland. The first is the beauty and poetry of his writing that feels much deeper than his teenage years should really allow. He writes like someone who has experienced many more years than his age and maybe that is in part down to the way that he lives. Whether it
Robin Walter
Jun 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
(I bought this book direct from Little Toller Books )

Review by Robin Walter (June 2020)

This is an exceptional book. Like other naturalists, Dara McAnulty has a keen eye for the birds, insects and places around him, and he can describe what he sees and feels with fresh and compelling language; but what makes this diary unique is how he relates this outer drama to his vivid inner life.

Dara describes his autism from the inside – not a medical condition, but a
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15 year old naturalist, activist and conservationist. My debut book, ‘Diary of a YoungNaturalist’ chronicles the turning of my 14th year, charting the wonders of the natural world, the challenges it faces...and my life as an autistic teenager campaigning to make the world a better place. I am currently writing my second book - a picture book about nature - for kids, 6+!

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  Here at Goodreads, we've noticed that a funny thing tends to happen when we start talking about audiobooks: The same few titles get...
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“If you brew your own cauldron, magic will surely happen.” 2 likes
“Many people accuse me of “not looking autistic”. I have no idea what that means. I know lots of ‘autistics’ and we all look different. We are not some recognisable breed. We are human beings. If we’re not out of the ordinary, it’s because we’re fighting to hide our real selves” 1 likes
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