Press & Publicity
TV and Podcasts
by Mark Chandler
30 July 2020
“Teenage conservationist Dara McAnulty and author Jini Reddy are among the writers shortlisted for this year’s Wainwright Prize for UK nature writing”
Now in its seventh year, the prize is awarded annually to the book which most successfully inspires readers to explore the outdoors and to nurture a respect for the natural world. McAnulty makes the list for his Diary of a Young Naturalist (Little Toller).
by Ciaran Flaherty
7 July 2020
“Fermanagh native, Dara McAnulty weaves a wonderful web of words in his first book ‘Diary of a Young Naturalist’ that it is impossible not to be drawn into his world.”
Dara’s book is a series of diary entries over a year when he and his family moved from County Fermanagh to County Down and a new life, from the western edge of Northern Ireland to the eastern precipice.
by Hannah Stephenson
4 July 2020
“There’s been a buzz around the teenager’s debut book, Diary Of A Young Naturalist, charting his encounters with wildlife and nature which act as an antidote to his struggles with everyday life…”
The Irish teenager has been hailed a bright new voice, praised by conservationist Chris Packham, who has become his friend since McAnulty appeared on Springwatch two years ago, helping Packham with a ‘bioblitz’ to audit the country’s wildlife.
by Leaf Arbuthnot
3 July 2020
“The BRILLIANT book: He’s a natural talent! A 16-year-old activist’s moving and lyrical chronicles of the wilds of Northern Ireland and living with autism”
This book chronicles the turning of a year for this teenage nature-lover. From his home patch in Northern Ireland, the 16-year-old’s diary entries tell of his intense connection to the natural world, his experiences as a young person with autism, and juggling his teenage life with his work as a conservationist and activist. It’s hard to believe it is written by someone so young – watch this space..
By Rachel Clarke
27 June 2020
“Under lockdown, we may have lived with banned birthday parties, romantic dinners, and shopping sprees, but nature defies quarantine and will not be cancelled.”
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 as he describes caterpillars “moving like slow motion accordions”, a goshawk that “looks like an autumn forest rolled in the first snows of winter”, and a wood anemone “exposed to the air like a forgotten spell”. Gorgeous, unforgettable images.
23rd June 2020
Dara’s intensely personal experiences serve to demonstrate some of the issues with which our wider communities are engaging, in particular the disconnection from nature that is now part of so many of our lives and the psychological and physical manifestations that causes.
By Freya McClements
23rd June 2020
When Dara McAnulty talks about the natural world, he comes alive. His arms fill the screen as he describes his most memorable experience of recent weeks – a chance encounter with a pair of red kites.
By Brendan Daly
21st June 2020
For Dara McAnulty, a passionate conservationist, the natural world provides the meaning and emotion that can sometimes be missing in human relationships.
By Charlotte Moore
13 Jun 2020
“an impassioned and original plea for protection for ‘our delicate and changing biosphere’.”
When you’ve met one autistic person, you’ve met one autistic person, as the useful saying goes. Having autism doesn’t automatically result in this close bond, but it often does involve an obsession, or passion, of unusual strength and depth. Dara, whose name means ‘oak, wise, fruitful’, has done a public service in revealing his autistic passion to us. And Little Toller Books are to be congratulated on having the wisdom to publish this lovely and remarkable book.
by Alex Preston
7 Jun 2020
“There are echoes of the great WH Hudson in an autistic teenager’s intimate reflections on the complex pleasures of immersion in nature”
McAnulty is fiercely attuned to his own moods, and at a time when we’re increasingly aware of the health benefits of the outdoors, his ability to medicate with nature strikes a powerful chord: “my head is pretty hectic most of the time, and watching daphnia, beetles, pond skaters and dragonfly nymphs is a medicine for this overactive brain”. A few hours reading this intimate, sensitive, deeply felt memoir had the same effect on me, lifting my spirits and giving me a great deal of hope for the future, simply that young people like Dara McAnulty are alive and writing in the world.
By Hilary A White
6th June 2020
“Teenage Naturalist Dara McAnulty’s book is almost as notable for what it says about the human world as the wild.”
Dara McAnulty is a nature-mad teenager from Ulster who has become another powerful and celebrated voice in the youth environmentalism movement. He was meant to release this eagerly awaited debut memoir into a world continuing to blindly swat nature out of its way in the hope that it could move readers and make a difference. As active in eco-campaigning as he is speaking out about autism awareness (his mother and siblings also have the condition), McAnulty was lined up to be one of the biggest publishing talking points of the year and a sell-out prospect for any festival that could get him.
By Steven Carroll
29th May 2020
“Divided into the four seasons, his diary covers everyday events under the panoply of the eternal natural world. All things considered – he’s 16 – a brilliant achievement.”
One of Dara McAnulty’s teachers in Northern Ireland, where his family lives, once told his mother that her son would never be able to string a sentence together let alone a paragraph. Well, the young naturalist has written a book – and it’s captivating.
By Patrick Barkham
6th June 2020
“Dara McAnulty is being hailed by the likes of Robert Macfarlane and Chris Packham as a bright new voice. He talks about life with autism and finding peace in the wilds of Northern Ireland”
There is a genuine buzz around his debut, a combination of nature book and memoir, a warm portrait of a close-knit family and a coming-of-age story. Robert Macfarlane has hailed his “extraordinary voice and vision”; Chris Packham has become a friend; Steve Silberman, author of NeuroTribes, called him “inspiring”. The teenager’s environmental activism has led to comparisons with Greta Thunberg.
by Amanda Bell
19 May 2020
“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”
Is it ageist to expect a callow book from a young author? Any such expectations will be confounded by this wise, lyrical, and well-researched book. And why will this diary transcend the current crisis? 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. As soon as Covid-19 restrictions were announced in Ireland, people swarmed to the parks, beaches, woods and mountains in such numbers that social distancing became impossible. We know instinctively where solace is to be found.
By Christopher Hart
28 May 2020
“Like reading William Blake, or Ted Hughes, it really is a strange and magical experience”
I’m tempted to say there’s something ‘shamanistic’ about the way he sees the natural world, if it didn’t risk sounding a bit pseudo. But I can’t help thinking it all the same. There really is something of that old American Indian ‘Brother Wolf, Sister Moon’ sensibility here: a feeling of magical kinship with other animals and plants and natural phenomena, although he also possesses a great store of detailed scientific knowledge, too. This is no mere dreamer; and, like the American Indians, he’s no sentimentalist about nature either.
by Caroline Sanderson
6 Mar 2020
“the fanfare is wholly justified: this is an astonishingly assured book for one so young”
“I was diagnosed with autism aged five… By age seven I knew I was very different… Nature became so much more than an escape, it became a life support system.” At 15, Dara McAnulty from Northern Ireland is already a star of the conservation movement, with Chris Packham and Robert Macfarlane among his many fans. Creator of a blog entitled “Naturalist Dara”, he received an Unsprung Hero Award from BBC’s “Springwatch” in 2017; and was crowned “Animal Hero of the Year” by the Daily Mirror in 2018. In 2019 he became a Young Ambassador for the Jane Goodall Institute and was the youngest ever recipient of the RSPB Medal. Not surprisingly, there is already a great deal of fanfare surrounding this, his first book which will be BBC Radio 4 “Book of the Week”, with appearances for Dara already booked at the Hay, Cambridge, Cheltenham and Edinburgh festivals. And the fanfare is wholly justified: this is an astonishingly assured book for one so young. Charting a year in his 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. May it be a bestseller, not only for the extraordinary Dara, but for Little Toller Books, long one of my favourite indie publishers. Read the full review