Do you ever think about how to be a good citizen of the world? It’s a big question, and not always a fun one to answer. Sometimes it’s easier to start more basic like, how can I be a good creature today? How to Be a Good Creature: A Memoir in Thirteen Animals (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2018) asks just that. In her 208-page memoir beautifully illustrated by Rebecca Green, Sy Montgomery tells us the story of the life she dedicated to the study of animals that becomes a remarkably refreshing story about all of us.

Some people are bad with names, and others are so bad with names that they remember you by your pet’s name. There’s a tendency for people that feel different to associate with things—or in this case, animals—that feel different, too. The most beautiful piece of human nature is our relationship with animals. For all that we’ve done to them, they still care about us. Dogs can sense if you’re upset before you even know it. And we care for them in one of the most loving inter-species relationships known to humankind.

Bottom line: We tend to look to our peers for a fresh perspective when we could all spend a little more time with the animals around us. They really can teach us How to Be a Good Creature.