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Robert Service. Illustrated by Ted Harrison.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 1988.
32pp., cloth, $14.95.
ISBN 0-921103-35-2. CIP.

Subject Headings:
Children's poetry, Canadian (English).
Yukon Territory-Juvenile poetry.
Canada, Northern-Juvenile poetry.

Grades 4 and up / Ages 9 and up

Reviewed by Maryleah Otto.

Volume 17 Number 1
1989 January

Here is a pure gold nugget to enrich any library, especially in Canada. What a shame Robert Service is no longer alive. I'm sure he would have cheered to see his world-famous ballad come to life so brilliantly in Ted Harrison's superb paintings.

The Shooting of Dan McGrew tells the bitter tale of a nameless prospector in the gold-rush days of the Yukon, Of Dan McGrew, whom the prospector has marked for death, and of "the lady known as Lou." It's a story of age-old passions - greed, lust and vengeance - and this time it's played out against the incredible hardships of life in the Arctic, a life known well to both Service and Harrison.

In thirteen full-colour full-page paintings, which are all the more effective in this large format (10" x 14"), Harrison shows us the most dramatic moments of the plot. His style mirrors the text with its bold, bright, direct and deceptively unsophisticated pictures. The characters and objects in each scene are outlined in blue and black and are filled in with strong blues, orange, red and yellow. The backgrounds are done in circular or undulating patterns that suggest the vastness of the northern landscape. The surrealistic effects in some of the paintings echo the monstrousness of the tale and the awesome quality of its setting.

Maryleah Otto, London Public Library, London, ON.
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