Diary of a Young Naturalist by Dara McAnulty

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Diary of a Young Naturalist by Dara McAnulty

Summary:

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.”

My Review:

On that showery Saturday in Hyde Park in London back in September 2018 I was among thousands of those who love wildlife that gathered ahead of a Walk for Wildlife on that day there was many speakers but among them was a young man who captivated the crowd. I thought then this was a young man with a great future. Dara McAnulty has been passionate about wildlife since he was very young and today sees the release of his debut book The Diary of a Young Naturalist (Little Toller Books) which in a diary format looks at the 15-year-old’s year starting in Spring. Dara is the youngest recipient of the RSPB’s medal for services to conservation.

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Like Dara, I became passionate about wildlife in my very young days and that love of nature has never left and through some difficult dark days it has been nature that I find helps and especially through these difficult times that we are living through.

Dara lives with his family in Northern Ireland and spend their time finding the beauty in nature through their times away from home. Nature after all is all around us. Whether it is a bird, butterfly or insect Dara will stop and wants to learn all about it. Dara is autistic and suffered the most horrific abuse from pupils at school. It is the love of his family that is his rock and is harbour during those difficult days. He also finds solace in his love of punk music.

When Dara discovered writing he poured his heart into writing thoughts on paper and when you are reading Dara’s words you very quickly become aware of just what a powerful and poetic voice Dara has. Dara wants to be heard about just what a dangerous place our wildlife is in. What struck me in Dara’s writing is just how lyrical he really is whether Dara is talking about his life or about his family or about the nature around him as he discovers through each season and through the anxiety of moving house and starting a new school, difficult for any of us but when you have autism this is multiplied on many levels. Trust me Dara will be heard and Diary of a Young Naturalist is his voice and this will inspire a new and young vibrant generation of wildlife lovers. There are many great voices in nature writing and you can now add Dara McAnulty to the list.

I cannot recommend Dara’s debut book highly enough and Diary of a Young Naturalist will appeal to readers of all ages.

240 Pages.

*Diary of a Young Naturalist by Dara McAnulty will be the Book of the Week on BBC Radio 4 from Monday 25th May at 9.45am

Thank you to Gracie at Little Toller Books for the review copy of Diary of a Young Naturalist by Dara McAnulty.

Diary of a Young Naturalist by Dara McAnulty was published by Little Toller Books and was published on 25th May 2020 and is available to order through the publisher and also through your local independent bookshops.

 

The Good Bee: A Celebration of Bees and How to Save Them by Alison Benjamin & Brian McCallum

 

The Good Bee

The Good Bee: A Celebration of Bees and How to Save Them by Alison Benjamin & Brian McCallum

Summary:

Bees are our most loyal ally. These fascinating, enigmatic creatures are a key lynchpin in the working of our planet. Without them the landscape, as well as every aisle in our supermarkets would look radically different.

And we’re not just talking about honey bees. There are more than 20,000 species of bee worldwide and only a handful make honey. Some live in colonies and others are solitary. We can all help protect them – and they desperately need protecting – but you can’t save what you don’t love. And you can’t love what you don’t know.

The Good Bee is a celebration of this most vital and mysterious of nature’s wizards. Here you’ll discover the complexities of bee behaviour – as well as the bits that still baffle us – the part they play in the natural world, their relationship with us throughout history, how they are coming under threat and what we can all do about it.

Beautifully produced, with hand-made illustrations throughout, it is a story for our times and a book to treasure.

 My Review:

Honeybees have been around for around 100 million years, just think about that for a moment. Pollinating flowers and making honey. Yet in 2019 they are facing extinction, but the fate of the bee goes hand in hand with the fate of mankind. In simple and plain terms if we allow the bees to be wiped out then life on our planet will never be the same again. They need our help.

Both Alison Benjamin and Brian McCallum have written the most wonderful book on the subject of bees. A look at the life of an insect that is so close to man.

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With superb illustrations from James Nunn we embark on a journey into the private life of the bee. There are over 25,000 species of Bees but not all make bees make honey. Yet all the species have one thing in common. They are great pollinators and that is why they play such a vital role in our planets existence.

Bumblebees are the first bees to appear but their body temperature must be around 80 °F or they cannot take off and at any one time they are only 40 minutes from starvation.

In this beautiful little book, we take a look at some of the species you may see as they go from one flower to another. There is also a look at why bees are so close to being lost forever and how each of us can create a garden that will attract different species of bees.

If we all just created a little space for nature and bees, then we would not be facing such a dramatic loss that would impact every single human on our planet.

The fate of the bee is in our hands and so is our future and it is only now that we are just beginning to understand what is at stake. We can all make a difference. Time to show a little love to the bees we see every Summer and give them a hand. Next time you spread some honey on your morning toast, just stop a moment and think about how this came to be.

192 Pages.

Thank you to for the review copy of The Good Bee: A Celebration of Bees and How to Save Them by Alison Benjamin & Brian McCallum

The Good Bee: A Celebration of Bees and How to Save Them by Alison Benjamin and Brian McCallum was published by Michael O’Mara Books and was published on 2nd May 2019 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

 

The Good Bee Blog Tour

The Good Bee Blog Tour Card

 

The Wood – The Life & Times of Cockshutt Wood by John Lewis-Stempel

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The Wood The Life & Times of Cockshutt Wood
by John Lewis-Stempel

 

The standard of nature writing over recent years has just got better and better, we are so fortunate to have so many great nature writers in the UK and twice winner of the Wainwright Prize for Nature Writing. (2015 & 2017) John Lewis-Stempel returns with his best book to date.  The Wood: The Life and Times of Cockshutt Wood is an intimate account of John’s last year managing this three and half acres of mixed woodland in Herefordshire.

 

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Lewis-Stempel’s latest has been written in a diary format and takes us through the four season and the changing face of Cockshutt Wood, the flora and fauna of this working wood comes to life through the poetic words of a nature writer at his very best. We meet the Tawny Owl who is affectionately known as ‘Old Brown’ the various animals from pigs to sheep who mad the wood their home to keep the dreaded bramble at bay.

The book starts in December when the days are at their shortest but even now when the trees are dormant there is still life in John’s working wood. The sheer beauty of this book is how John brings the history, poetry and even recipes (some of which I will be trying through the course of the year) There are recipes ranging from Acorn Coffee, Chestnut Soup and Elderflower Champagne.

John comes from a farming family that dates back to the 13th Century and is ideally placed to write about countryside as he sees it, his passion for everything in the countryside and its history and future. As the season moves from Winter to Spring, Cockshutt Wood wakens from its deep winter sleep, animals and amphibians that have slept through the cold and dark winter months now feel the warmth of Spring and waken from their slumber. The mixed woodland now starts to come to life, the sap is rising with the temperature.

The poetry is just wonderful and carefully selected and really works to bring the wood alive. The sights and sounds and even the smell of the wood just seep from every page not to mention the recipes. John ends his tenure managing the wood in the month of November with the words “I though the trees belonged to me, but I now realise I belonged to them” As he left the wood there is a sense of pain at leaving the wood and its inhabitants behind. The writer at one with the countryside and a book that deserves the plaudits. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

 304 Pages.

The Wood – The Life and Times of Cockshutt Wood by John Lewis-Stempel is published by Doubleday and was published on 8th March 2018 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.