March 24, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

A Lesson in Everything | Series Made Simple Fall 2011

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SMS1111w_ChelseyRevised(Original Import)Like the astronauts on our cover, I’m a fan of the D.I.Y. mindset (“do it yourself” for those not up on your home improvement lingo). Fortunately, I don’t need to worry about repairing a space shuttle or baking in zero gravity. Instead, I worry about beating my father at Trivial Pursuit, and like our intergalactic travelers I turn to series nonfiction to bulk up my knowledge.

Little did I know when I became editor of Series Made Simple this past summer that I would learn so much in so many different areas. I certainly had no idea that male platypuses have poisonous stingers, laughing makes your heart beat faster, and a “nac-nac” is a motocross trick where riders appear to dismount their bikes while airborne.

With the holiday season approaching, I feel pretty smug about my preparations for the annual trivia showdown. My father might have legal and military history in the bag, but I doubt he knows that Marie Antoinette loved croissants (see Rita Meade’s article on biographies, “Fascinating Folks”), how to craft princess slippers from a feather boa (check out Paula Willey’s arts and crafts reviews in “Hands-On Reading”), or that wind power supplies less than one percent of global electricity (read June Shimonishi’s environment piece, “Beyond Living Green”).

This fall there are series covering in-demand and familiar topics, including strange animals, popular sports, constitutional history, and science fair experiments. But there are also out-of-the-box zingers about monsters and science, fashion and societal norms, and heroic escapes from historical atrocities. Given my “training,” I particularly appreciate all the fantastic back matter-or as I see it, even more ways to bulk up on facts.

And, as we note in our back-page article, “There’s Always Room for More,” demands for even more series nonfiction topics never abate. We hope you’ll contribute your ideas for new series through and Twitter.

Though my first issue has been a lesson in box balancing, I have not worked in isolation. I owe many thanks to former editor Henrietta Thornton-Verma for her insight and guidance. Talk about a wealth of knowledge!

Come Thanksgiving, I’m ready to take the dusty, blue Trivial Pursuit box down from its shelf, unfold the well-worn board, and break out the pie pieces. Then it’s back to work preparing for the spring 2012 issue. After all, as our space adventurers show us, there’s always something more to learn-even when exploring the final frontier.

Chelsey Philpot
Editor, Series Made Simple

Chelsey Philpot About Chelsey Philpot

Chelsey Philpot was associate book reviews editor and editor of Series Made Simple. She’s on Twitter @chelseyphilpot, and blogs at