"This, I thought, is how to confront the cruelty of the word," writes Sy Montgomery near the end of her enchanting "Of Time and Turtles."

She's talking about saving turtles, most of them smashed while (slowly) walking across New England highways on their way to water, nests or a (slow) frolic in a meadow.

"Turtles" is very much of a piece with Montgomery's beatific "The Soul of an Octopus" in its assertion that listening to another species — and using what you learn — is good not just for those creatures but for everyone.

Montgomery does most of her listening in the basement of the Massachusetts home of Alexxia Bell and Natasha Nowick. She does a lot of smelling there, too, because they have a hospital with up to 1,000 turtles living, wintering or recovering from surgery. They're the stars of the book, dedicated animal lovers who refuse to give up on the turtles in their tender, devoted care (Did you know turtles can be brought back from the dead? Bell and Nowick have done it.)

Montgomery and illustrator Matt Patterson also spend time in the field, rescuing eggs and releasing healed animals into the wild. She likens one such trip to passing through a magic portal to "a secret, sacred world where shy animals could go about their private lives as they had since the time of the dinosaurs."

The "Time" part of the title also is important. Montgomery makes connections between how turtles experience it and how we began to experience it during the pandemic. She also writes thoughtfully about gender identity, climate crisis and compassion. "Of Time and Turtles" is a beautiful book — you'll want to savor it (slowly).

Of Time and Turtles

By: Sy Montgomery, with illustrations by Matt Patterson.

Publisher: Mariner, 304 pages, $28.99.