THE CREMATION OF SAM MCGEE
Robert Service. Illustrated by Ted Harrison.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 1986.
unpaged, cloth, $14.95.
ISBN 0-919964-92-3. CIP.
Klondike River Valley (Yukon)-Gold discoveries-Juvenile poetry.
Yukon Territory-Juvenile poetry.
Grades 4 and up / Ages 9 and up
Reviewed by Elizabeth Lockett.
Volume 15 Number 2
"There are strange things done in the midnight sun
The opening words of the Robert Service poem, "The Cremation of Sam McGee," set the scene for this humorous ballad of death, cold, and Cap's dedication as he fulfills his promise to the dying miner Sam McGee. Twelve wonderful paintings by Ted Harrison illustrate this edition of the poem. The narrator, in a red parka, appears in almost every painting. The colours leap from the page as Sam is pushed past a Dawson city dwelling, or curls up in the snow surrounded by well-fed dogs, or is warm for the first time since he left Tennessee "in the heart of the furnace roar." Notes by the illustrator explain the paintings and give details of life in the Yukon.
The introduction by Pierre Berton compares the life and work of Robert Service and Ted Harrison. The spell of the Yukon is described by Ted Harrison as he recalls the authors who led him to the Arctic and his fascination with the North. This is a wonderful picture-book but it is not a picture-book for small children. It could be used for discussion about life in the Yukon, Canadian poetry, and Canadian art.
By the men who moil for gold;"
Elizabeth Lockett, Niagara Falls, ON.