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Children's Nonfiction General

Cremation of Sam McGee, The

by (author) Robert Service

illustrated by Ted Harrison

Kids Can Press
Initial publish date
Mar 2013
Recommended Age
9 to 11
Recommended Grade
4 to 6
Recommended Reading age
9 to 11
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Jan 1986
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Aug 1998
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2013
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Where to buy it


In 1986 Kids Can Press published an edition of Robert Service's “The Cremation of Sam McGee” illustrated by painter Ted Harrison, who used his signature broad brushstrokes and unconventional choice of color to bring this gritty narrative poem to life. Evoking both the spare beauty and the mournful solitude of the Yukon landscape, Harrison's paintings proved the perfect match for Service's masterpiece about a doomed prospector adrift in a harsh land. Harrison's Illustrator's Notes on each page enhanced both poem and illustrations by adding valuable historical background.

Upon its original publication, many recognized the book as an innovative approach to illustrating poetry for children. For years The Cremation of Sam McGee has stood out as a publishing landmark, losing none of its appeal both as a read-aloud and as a work of art. Kids Can Press proudly publishes this deluxe hardcover twentieth anniversary edition --- complete with a spot-varnished cover, new cover art and heavy coated stock --- of a book that remains as entrancing as a night sky alive with the vibrant glow of the Northern Lights.

About the authors

Robert W. Service (1874-1958) was born in Preston, Lancashire, England, and came to Canada in 1895, eventually ending up in Yukon Territory in 1904, five years after the Klondike Gold Rush. His many books include the poetry collection The Songs of a Sourdough, the novel The Trail of '98, and the autobiography Ploughman of the Moon. Service later moved to France, where he died.

Robert Service's profile page

Ted Harrison is an internationally acclaimed artist best known for his vibrant interpretations of the Canadian North. He lives in Victoria, British Columbia.

Ted Harrison's profile page


  • Winner, Best Book Selection, The New York Times
  • Winner, Notable Book, American Library Association,

Editorial Reviews

[G]orgeously illustrated ... [A] wonderful new edition ... Harrison's pictures are startling and memorable—Winnipeg Free Press

No poem that I can think of, especially a comic one, was ever rendered so electrifyingly in paint—Book World

There are strange things done in the midnight sunBy the men who moil for books;The Arctic trails have their secret talesthat could give you second looks,The Northern Lights have seen their sightsBut the wisest they ever did seeWas the day in'06, complete with great pixThey reissued Sam McGee.—Globe and Mail

Other titles by Robert Service

Other titles by Ted Harrison