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September 29, 1996|CHARLES SOLOMON

MILKY WAY RAILROAD by Kenji Miyazawa, translated and adapted from the Japanese by Joseph Sigrist & D. M. Stroud, illustrated by Ryu Okazaki (Stone Bridge Press: $11.95, 139 pp., paperback original). Originally published in 1927 by one of Japan's most eminent children's writers and poets, "Milky Way Railroad" will remind Western readers of Saint-Exupery's "The Little Prince." Kenji, a lonely adolescent, finds himself aboard a mysterious train with his best friend, Minoru. As they travel through the galaxy, the boys visit wondrous planets.

Children will enjoy the simple beauties Miyazawa describes; parents and older readers will find deeper meaning in his innocent visions. Fans of Japanese animation will recognize the book as the source for Gisaboro Sugii's feature "Night on the Galactic Express" (1985).

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