How to Be a Good Creature: A Memoir in Thirteen Animals
by Sy Montgomery (author) and Rebecca Green (Illustrator)
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (September 25, 2018), 978-0544938328
How to Be a Good Creature: A Memoir in Thirteen Animals

Naturalist Sy Montgomery 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… [Mine] 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.
—Publisher’s Weekly


With plenty of heart, acclaimed naturalist Sy Montgomery makes the convincing case that all animals—great and small—can teach us compassion. Ever since her parents gave her a Scottie puppy, the author’s fascination with the animal world has been insuppressible, and she made that obsession into a career writing about animals in more than 20 books. Here, the author looks at 13 of the most important animals in her life and how they changed her… The National Geographic channel meets memoir in this brief, compelling examination of what animals can teach us about ourselves.
—Kirkus