________________ CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 13. . . .November 25, 2011


The Sign of the Black Rock. (Three Thieves, Book Two).

Scott Chantler.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2011.
112 pp., pbk. & hc., $8.95 (pbk.), $17.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-55453-417-3 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-55453-416-6 (hc.).

Grades 4-7 / Ages 9-12.

Review by Tara Stieglitz.

*** /4



They weren't run out. They escaped.

Right from the Queen's own dungeon, neat as you please. A Norker, a young girl and an Etten with one head.

They say the girl's red-haired like the devil 'imself.


The Sign of the Black Rock is the second book of Scott Chantler's "Three Thieves" graphic novel series. This book follows the further adventures of Dessa, an orphan searching for her twin brother, and her two companions, Topper and Fisk. The Sign of the Black Rock takes place soon after the previous book, Tower of Treasure, ended. Dessa, Topper and Fisk are still on the run after breaking into the Queen's treasury and subsequently escaping from prison and imminent execution. Dessa is also hunting for a mysterious man whom she believes stole her brother years ago. At the beginning of The Sign of the Black Rock, Dessa and her friends take shelter from a violent storm in an out of the way inn, only to discover that the inn in crawling with the Queen's guards. Also in the story is the inn's shady proprietor who is involved in illegal activity that he hopes to hide from the guards while accommodating them enough to give him an opportunity to turn in Dessa and her companions. The side plot of Dessa's search for her brother is also furthered in this book when she meets a woman who remembers seeing the mysterious man with Dessa's twin brother.

internal art     The Sign of the Black Rock keeps up the snappy pace and engaging story that was started in Tower of Treasure. The book is action-packed and suspenseful with numerous near captures and clever escapes as Dessa, Topper and Fisk try to evade both the scheming proprietor of the inn and the Queen's guards, all in the space of a single stormy night. Dessa is resourceful and strong, and the supporting characters are interesting and well-developed. The illustrations are well done; often adding to the story or supplying subtle humour.

      The Sign of the Black Rock stays true to the quality of the first instalment in the series. It is well-illustrated with good characterization that does not interfere with the fast paced plot. The Sign of the Black Rock is an excellent choice for fans of fantasy and adventure stories and is a recommended purchase for public and school libraries.


Tara Stieglitz is a librarian at Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton, AB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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