The first volume of the Three Thieves series, Tower of Treasure, won the 2011 Joe Shuster Award for Best Comics for Kids. The second volume, The Sign of the Black Rock, was a nominee for the 2012 award, now known as the Dragon Award/Prix Dragon. While this review is covering the second and third books in the series, a quick summary of the first book is necessary to place the action and characters in context.

Fourteen-year-old Dessa, an orphaned acrobat, becomes caught up in a plot to rob the Queen’s treasury. Dessa and the other two thieves, Topper, an accomplished pick pocket and dreamer, and Fisk, the circus strongman,  leave the circus when their attempt to rob the royal treasury is foiled. During this episode, Dessa recognizes the man responsible for absconding with her twin brother and, in retaliation for the recognition, she and her friends are sentenced to hang the next morning. But the three are circus performers, after all. They manage to escape and set out to find Dessa’s brother and to journey into the second volume of the series.

The story is immediately continued in this second volume, as the three companions begin their hunt for the mysterious man who Dessa believes is responsible for the kidnapping of her twin. Taking shelter from a storm in the Black Rock Inn proves to be detrimental to the success of their venture, as the inn is also shelter to a group of the Queen’s guards sent to recapture the three thieves. Aided by the wife of the shady innkeeper, the three heroes make their way safely into the third volume of the ongoing series.

The subsequent entry to the series, The Captive Prince, adds another charismatic character to Dessa’s quest to find her brother. The main focus of this volume is on the developing friendship between Dessa and the Prince, which ultimately shapes the direction for the three thieves in their curtailed journey. The epilogue to this volume increases the suspense for the reader to delve immediately into further volumes of their, as of yet, unfinished mission.

This engaging series (scheduled to be seven volumes long) is full of non-stop action, suspense, humour, resonating dialogue, and strong, resourceful main characters who continue to develop along with the progression of the story cycle. The full-colour illustrations focus predominantly on the characters rather than the setting. Many of the panels contain blocks of single panel pastel coloured backgrounds, resulting in a feeling of light and emotion through the use of colour. When the setting is crucial to the storytelling, the colours and more detailed backgrounds effectively and efficiently evoke suspense, mystery, danger and friendship. The cartoon-like characters are individuals with responsive faces and bodies, easy to identify in the flurry of action as well as easy to identify with as people to cheer for (or against) as a reader.

Three Thieves, vol. 2: The Sign of The Black Rock
ISBN: 9781554534166
Three Thieves, vol. 3: The Captive Prince
ISBN: 9781554537778
by Scott Chantler
Kids Can Press, 2011-2012
Publisher Age Rating: 9-12

  • Gail

    | She/Her Professor, Library and Information Studies, University of Alberta


    In addition to teaching at the School of Library and Information Studies (University of Alberta) where she is an adjunct professor, Gail tells stories and conducts workshops on a wide variety of topics across Canada and the United States. Each year she teaches the following courses for the University of Alberta. All of her courses are delivered online: Storytelling, Comic Books and Graphic Novels in School and Public Libraries, Canadian Children’s Literature for School and Public Libraries and Young Adult Literature. She also teaches a course on Indigenous Literature for the ATEP program (Aboriginal Teacher Education Program) at the University of Alberta. Gail is the award-winning author of nine books on storytelling and folklore in popular culture.

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