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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
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Jan 1986
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Aug 1998
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2013
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 9 to 11
  • Grade: 4 to 6
  • Reading age: 9 to 11


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 Service was born in Lancashire, England in 1874, the son of lower middle class parents, the eldest of what would be ten children. When he was four, the family moved to Glasgow, Scotland and he and a brother were taken to live with his paternal grandparents and four aunts nearby in Kilwinning. In school, he was known for getting into scrapes, but mostly was a solitary and imaginative child, immersing himself in books. At a celebratory meal for his sixth birthday, he always remembered surprising the adults and even himself, with two spontaneous rhyming verses in the form of a grace, foretelling of his future and his talents.

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