A look through McAnulty’s eyes reveals a world that “sparkles differently,” said Macfarlane. Then he began quoting his favorite lines from the “Diary of a Young Naturalist”, such as one in which the author describes his family as “as close as otters” and another about “the Art Deco lines of a booby”.
Macfarlane added, “One might suspect that this is a young writer who is being honored for his youth, but he is a master of the one-liners.”
McAnulty said in an interview at his home that he has been obsessed with nature for as long as he can remember. As a child, he and his brother and sister spent days “climbing trees, rushing around, and doing things that most parents would never allow their children to do.” His mother, a former music journalist, and his father, a conservationist, cultivated this passion, even if it offended school bullies.
One day while he was fighting in elementary school, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds paid a visit to discuss the reintroduction of the Red Kite to Northern Ireland. “I was listening for the first time in a long time,” he wrote, and it made him fight for and play in nature.
But he only started writing about it because of his autism. “I have to write to process what’s going on,” he said, “otherwise everything will rumble around in my brain and cause damage.”
McAnulty started his own blog when he was 12. His early posts were simple animal profiles with titles like “Magical Moths!” But when he was 14, Little Toller asked if he would like to write a series of posts for his website. When McAnulty started, he realized that what he was writing could be a book.