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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 five ... By age seven I knew I was very different, I had got used to the isolation, my inability to break through into the world of talking about football or Minecraft was not tolerated. Then came the bullying. Nature became so much more than an escape; it became a life-support system." Diary of a Young Naturalist portrays Dara's intense connection to the natural world, and his perspective as a teenager juggling exams and friendships alongside a life of campaigning. "In writing this book," Dara explains, "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."
In 2017 Dara McAnulty was awarded BBC Springwatch `Unsprung Hero' Award and Birdwatch magazine `Local Hero'. In 2018 he was awarded 'Animal Hero' of the year by The Daily Mirror and became ambassador for RSPCA and the iWill campaign. In 2019 he became a Young Ambassador for the Jane Goodall Institute. Dara lives in Northern Ireland with his family.
"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
"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
"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
"McAnulty’s writing glows with his deep sympathy for the natural world."
– Tim Flannery