CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number 30. . . .April 6, 2018
Unlimited follows brothers Chad and Matt and friends Dean and Andrew as they continue with hilarious hijinks in their small Saskatchewan town first introduced in the original “Milligan Creek” series novel Up the Creek!.
This time round, the boys are inspired by a school field trip to the local Wetlands Unlimited marsh. It is here that they hatch a brilliant idea: hijack the radio signal transmitting a recorded message about the marsh and use it to launch their own pirate radio station. Originally intended for only their personal amusement, the radio show quickly becomes an underground phenomenon with audiotaped copies being sold in the hallways of their school. Keeping their identities a secret so as not to spoil the mystery of who is behind the most talked-about happenings in town, Chad, Matt, Dean and Andrew are elated at their new found popularity … that is until the radio show draws the attention of Wetlands Unlimited – and the local police.
The impressively authentic depiction of male friendship previously introduced in the original novel continues to impress in the sequel. Author Kevin Miller has a true knack for accurately representing the intricate balance of adolescence friendship: genuine care with a dose of well intended teasing. Once again, the character of Dean remains a standout with his personality further fleshed out a bit further thanks to his burgeoning romantic feelings for Chad and Matt’s sister Joyce. The often awkward moments of Dean mooning over Joyce are some of the book’s most enjoyable as the rest of the boys react with eye rolls and good natured ribbing. This character development, along with a truly fun and engaging “story within the story” narrative of the boy’s creepy yet humorous radio broadcast “It Came … from the Grain”, makes this novel a significant improvement in the “Milligan Creek” series.
Still likely to appeal mostly to hesitant young male readers, this sequel offers a much smoother read and delightfully energetic ride alongside Chad, Matt, Dean, and Andrew. The inclusion of education around eco systems and the impact of it on prairie farmlands is also a welcome addition. One warning for those who have not yet enjoyed the first book in the series: it would do well to pick up the original as no time is spent on character introductions or a review of the last book’s plot. Nonetheless, sincere kudos to author Kevin Miller for stepping up his game in Unlimited as young readers are sure to be satisfied and left wanting more.
Amy Westbury is a Grade 6/7 teacher at Abbey Lane Public School in Oakville, ON.