| Tetsu no Machi no Shônen is a full-length story for children written by Kokubun Ichitarô (1911-85) at the request of Shinchosha. Ishikawa Mitsuo, who had been engaged in editing a magazine called Ginga [Galaxy], recommended several writers to create a full-scale story for children. Kokubun was one of them, and Tetsu no Machi no Shônen was published in 1954. At first, Kokubun intended the title to be Bokura wa Tantei wo Shitakattanodesu [We Wanted to Be Detectives]. However, as Ishikawa suggested that the title should be Tetsu no Machi no Shônen, Kokubun yielded to it.|
Tetsu no Machi no Shônen is about six boys who came to Tokyo from Yamagata in 1944 to serve as live-in apprentices at an ironworks. Their unity, friendship, and betrayal are described against social conditions such as the formation of labor unions prompted by postwar democratization. The apprentice boys gradually accept labor union activity and become aware of social problems. The agony of a boy betrayed by a fellow apprentice is also depicted crisply.
According to Kokubun, he wrote Tetsu no Machi no Shônen because he wanted Japanese boys and girls to learn the idea of the Constitution, the Labor Standards Act, and the Labor Union Act. He had been a teacher, a worker, and a labor union activist just like the boys in the story. His experiences contributed to the creation of Tetsu no Machi no Shônen, which received Japanese Association of Writers for Children Prize in 1955. Although a weakness in character has been pointed out, an elaborated plot and the power of enlightening young readers were highly evaluated. Other reviews valued the clarity of the moral theme, but pointed out that betrayal of friendship was justified under the pretext of class conflict.