Now that I have a second grader, the questions he asks me each day have me googling more than I’d like to admit.

“Are stars made of light?”

“How did we get brains that are so smart? What are brains made of anyway?”

“How does that ________ (fill in the blank) work?”

I turn to my phone so much that I worry he thinks I don’t know anything. But enter Neil Shubin — whose new book “Some Assembly Required: Decoding Four Billion Years of Life, from Ancient Fossils to DNA” — has made me have to do a little less googling. I can now throw out facts that my second grader deems “really cool.”

In his new book, Shubin explores earth’s transformation over billions of years in the history of life on Earth, providing stories of amazing creatures — and the scientists who study them — to explain how nature invents. Elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2011, Shubin is also the author of “Your Inner Fish” and “The Universe Within.” He’s the Robert R. Bensley Professor of Organismal Biology and Anatomy at the University of Chicago, and a fantastic writer.

From bacteria to ancient fish, to fish lungs, reptiles, and apelike primates evolving into humans, “Some Assembly Required” offers a new view of the evolution of human and animal life that explains the incredible diversity of life on our planet and how it came to be.

We have now arrived at an important moment in our history: prehistoric fossils coupled with new DNA technology have given scientists and explorers the tools to answer the questions of our existence:

“How do big changes in evolution happen?”

“Is our presence on Earth the product of mere chance?”

This new science in “Some Assembly Required” — written and explored by the best-selling author in an accessible and interesting way — reveals an evolutionary history filled with twists and turns, trial and error, accident and invention. He takes his readers on a journey of discovery in this new book and will be talking about it at Bookmarks on Thursday, March 19, at 7 p.m. in a free event.

This discussion may be a bit over my 7-year old’s head, but perfect for high school students and their parents.

Ginger Hendricks is the executive director at Bookmarks. Each month, Bookmarks contributes editorial content to our magazine. For more information, visit

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