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Children's Fiction General

Sign of the Black Rock, The

illustrated by Scott Chantler

Kids Can Press
Initial publish date
Sep 2011
General, Boys & Men, General
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2011
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2011
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 9 to 12
  • Grade: 4 to 7


Young readers (and adults, too) will feel transported by the clever, intricate plotline and superb, sweeping illustrations of this second title in the Three Thieves series. The action resumes as our three goodhearted fugitives stop at a roadside inn during a ferocious thunderstorm. Narrow escapes ensue as Grig, the scheming and selfish innkeeper, endeavors to capture the trio and secure a reward from the Queen. Tensions mount further as the Queen's Dragons arrive at the tavern, hot on the trail of the fugitives and immediately suspicious of the smarmy Grig. Will Grig get his due? Will the fugitives escape? And why hasn't Grig's gentle wife spoken a word in ten years? You can bet she's got a secret.

About the author

Scott Chantler is the Joe Shuster Award?winning cartoonist of the graphic novels Two Generals and Northwest Passage and of the Three Thieves graphic novel series. He is also a popular commercial illustrator whose clients have included McDonald's, Reebok, Macy's, Rogers, the New York Daily News, the National Post, the Toronto Star and Maclean's. When he's not doing either of those things, he teaches Writing for Graphic Novels at Max the Mutt Animation School in Toronto.

Scott Chantler's profile page


  • Winner, Best Books for Kids & Teens, Starred Selection , Canadian Children's Book Centre
  • Short-listed, Joe Shuster Dragon Award

Librarian Reviews

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

A travelling circus arrives in the capital city of Kingsbridge, bringing with it a one-headed Ettin, a small blue Norker and a 14-year-old acrobat on a mission to find her twin brother. Dessa (the acrobat) quickly finds herself on the outs with the circus owner and joins up with Fisk (the Ettin) and Topper (the Norker) to rob the Queen’s Tower of Treasure. The robbery goes awry, and the titular three thieves are caught by the Captain of the Guard. When Dessa realizes the Queen’s Chamberlain is the man who killed her mother and kidnapped her brother, things take a turn for the worse, and the three thieves are sentenced to death. One daring escape later, our heroes are on their way out of town with the Chamberlain’s notebook, a lead on Dessa’s brother and the Queen’s Dragons hot on their trail. We meet up with the three thieves again at The Sign of the Black Rock, a roadside inn where Dessa, Fisk and Topper are attempting to get out of the rain, only to be joined by most of the Queen’s Dragons, a ship full of smugglers and a greedy innkeeper whose wife has a connection to the Queen’s Chamberlain and the book Dessa stole from him.

The main character, Dessa, is a fairly typical plucky heroine, aided by familiar sidekick types Fisk and Topper. The villains are largely straightforward, though the Captain of the Guard has a little more depth. Hopefully, future entries in the series will flesh out the characters further and tell us a little more about the kingdom. Chantler has a nice storytelling style, both textually and visually, and an excellent sense of pacing. The stories never lag, the comedic episodes are well incorporated, and the action sequences are particularly well rendered. The art is a high point, with elements of humour, great facial expressions and a real attention to detail. These stories will be well appreciated by fans of comics and by reluctant readers. While the main character is female, the swashbuckling nature of the story will appeal equally to boys and girls in the 8-to-12 age range.

Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Winter 2012. Volume 35 No. 1.

The Sign of the Black Rock (Three Thieves)

Dessa, Topper and Fisk continue to search for Greyfalcon, hoping he will lead them to Dessa’s brother. Forced to take shelter at the Black Rock Inn, they come face-to-face with their pursuer Captain Drake. During a night filled with near captures and narrow escapes, Dessa’s fate becomes entwined with the innkeeper and his wife. Will they be able to help Dessa find her long-lost twin? Book Two in the series.

Source: The Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Best Books for Kids & Teens. Fall, 2012.

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