How to be a good creature A memoir in thirteen animals

Sy Montgomery

Book - 2018

A naturalist and adventurer discusses the personalities and quirks of thirteen animals who have profoundly affected her, exploring themes of learning to become empathetic, creating families, coping with loss, and the otherness and sameness of people and animals.

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2nd Floor 590/Montgomery Due Jul 7, 2022
2nd Floor 590/Montgomery Due Jul 12, 2022
Subjects
Genres
Anecdotes
Published
Boston : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt [2018]
Language
English
Physical Description
200 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references.
ISBN
9780544938328
0544938321
Main Author
Sy Montgomery (author)
Other Authors
Rebecca Green, 1986- (illustrator)
Review by Booklist Reviews

In a memoir that will speak to readers of all ages, naturalist and National Book Award winner Montgomery traces her life through the animals that have shared and enhanced it. From the briefest of encounters (a glimpse of a white-furred ermine) to the heartiest of friendships (a 750-pound pig called Christopher Hogwood), Montgomery offers a look at the insights about humanity animals have given her. Some, like Octavia the octopus, are creatures she has studied; others, like a series of border collies, have been dear companions. Montgomery is equally as tender and observant in her recollections of a pinktoe tarantula as she is of her childhood Scottish terrier. There may be audience confusion—early chapters, and accompanying black-and-white drawings, are ideal for middle-graders, while in later chapters, Montgomery broaches heavier subjects such as difficult family relationships and suicidal thoughts—and, in fact, this is marketed for adults. But this is an endeavor that is filled with heart and should be widely shared. Plenty of memoirs center on animals, but few offer such variety, passion, and care. Grades 6-12. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

From tarantulas to tigers to tree kangaroos, National Book Award finalist Montgomery (The Soul of an Octopus) knows her animals, and she believes that understanding the furred, hoofed, finned, and feathered creatures with whom we share this earth can transform our lives. The 13 animal friends she cites here teach us empathy, passion, purpose, and how to build a family, among other values, and we also get insight into her work as a naturalist. Copyright 2018 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Naturalist Montgomery (The Soul of an Octopus) rekindles her dormant childhood desire to talk with animals in a narrative that shimmers with grace and wonder. Ten tales poignantly personify 13 critters both commonplace and exotic, from Tess the border collie and Chris the extroverted pig to spiders and octopuses. "Many young girls worship their older sisters.... was a dog, and I... wanted to be just like her: Fierce. Feral. Unstoppable," Montgomery writes of Molly, her family's Scottish terrier. Other animals she writes about live farther from home, and Montgomery tells of quitting a newspaper job to shadow emus in the Australian Outback and befriending a tarantula in the jungles of South America. In the cloud forest of Papua, New Guinea, she rediscovers "the wildness that keeps us sane and whole, the wild, delicious hunger for life." Back on her New Hampshire farm, an ermine plundering the henhouse on Christmas offers a unexpected perspective on her difficult mother and a vivid dream of a deceased pet opens her heart to a new dog in need of rescue. Montgomery's lyrical storytelling and resonant lessons on how animals can enhance our humanity result in a tender, intelligent literary memoir. Illus. (Sept.) Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly.

Review by School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 7 Up—When asked by a journalist what life lessons animals have taught her, acclaimed writer and naturalist Montgomery hardly skipped a beat in responding, "how to be a good creature." Here the award-winning author elaborates on what she has learned from the animals she has loved and studied. Unable to conform to her parent's idea of how a young daughter should behave, this only child in a military family found her closest ally and a beloved friend in her first dog, a rambunctious Scottish terrier named Molly, and it appears from there on in her destiny was sealed. The author has traveled the world and worked with animals in the remote locations under less-than-ideal, often physically challenging, situations. However, it was the death of two of her beloved pets and a profound depression, accompanied by suicidal thoughts, that nearly brought an end to Montgomery's career. What ultimately saved the writer was a return to work and the "wildness" of nature that she believes keeps us "sane and whole." As Montgomery demonstrates again and again, it's not only the "tools of inquiry and intellect" it's also "heart" that allows us to glimpse into a world that "is aflame with shades of brilliance we cannot fathom." VERDICT Filled with fascinating stories of encounters and relationships with animals in various locations, this moving memoir will leave readers thinking about life on Earth, the creatures we share the planet with, and that "brilliance" we have yet to fully understand.—Daryl Grabarek, School Library Journal Copyright 2018 School Library Journal.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

A National Book Award finalist discusses the personalities and quirks of 13 animals—her friends—who have profoundly affected her, in a poetic and life-affirming memoir. 75,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

A naturalist and adventurer discusses the personalities and quirks of thirteen animals who have profoundly affected her, exploring themes of learning to become empathetic, creating families, coping with loss, and the otherness and sameness of people and animals.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

A New York Times bestseller! National Book Award finalist Sy Montgomery reflects on the personalities and quirks of 13 animals—her friends—who have profoundly affected her in this stunning, poetic, and life-affirming memoir featuring illustrations by Rebecca Green. Understanding someone who belongs to another species can be transformative. No one knows this better than author, naturalist, and adventurer Sy Montgomery. To research her books, Sy has traveled the world and encountered some of the planet’s rarest and most beautiful animals. From tarantulas to tigers, Sy’s life continually intersects with and is informed by the creatures she meets. This restorative memoir reflects on the personalities and quirks of thirteen animals—Sy’s friends—and the truths revealed by their grace. It also explores vast themes: the otherness and sameness of people and animals; the various ways we learn to love and become empathetic; how we find our passion; how we create our families; coping with loss and despair; gratitude; forgiveness; and most of all, how to be a good creature in the world.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

National Book Award finalist Sy Montgomery reflects on the personalities and quirks of 13 animals'her friends'who have profoundly affected her in this stunning, poetic, and life-affirming memoir featuring illustrations by Rebecca Green.

Review by Publisher Summary 5

A New York Times bestseller! National Book Award finalist Sy Montgomery reflects on the personalities and quirks of 13 animals'her friends'who have profoundly affected her in this stunning, poetic, and life-affirming memoir featuring illustrations by Rebecca Green. Understanding someone who belongs to another species can be transformative. No one knows this better than author, naturalist, and adventurer Sy Montgomery. To research her books, Sy has traveled the world and encountered some of the planet's rarest and most beautiful animals. From tarantulas to tigers, Sy's life continually intersects with and is informed by the creatures she meets. This restorative memoir reflects on the personalities and quirks of thirteen animals'sy's friends'and the truths revealed by their grace. It also explores vast themes: the otherness and sameness of people and animals; the various ways we learn to love and become empathetic; how we find our passion; how we create our families; coping with loss and despair; gratitude; forgiveness; and most of all, how to be a good creature in the world.

Review by Publisher Summary 6

National Book Award finalist Sy Montgomery reflects on the personalities and quirks of 13 animals—her friends—who have profoundly affected her in this stunning, poetic, and life-affirming memoir featuring illustrations by Rebecca Green.

Review by Publisher Summary 7

A New York Times bestseller! National Book Award finalist Sy Montgomery reflects on the personalities and quirks of 13 animals—her friends—who have profoundly affected her in this stunning, poetic, and life-affirming memoir featuring illustrations by Rebecca Green. Understanding someone who belongs to another species can be transformative. No one knows this better than author, naturalist, and adventurer Sy Montgomery. To research her books, Sy has traveled the world and encountered some of the planet’s rarest and most beautiful animals. From tarantulas to tigers, Sy’s life continually intersects with and is informed by the creatures she meets. This restorative memoir reflects on the personalities and quirks of thirteen animals—Sy’s friends—and the truths revealed by their grace. It also explores vast themes: the otherness and sameness of people and animals; the various ways we learn to love and become empathetic; how we find our passion; how we create our families; coping with loss and despair; gratitude; forgiveness; and most of all, how to be a good creature in the world.