Manuel could see that summer was coming to an end as he walked to school on that frosty morning. He was thinking about the talent show tomorrow, and he was still amazed that he had volunteered for it. He was going to pretend to sing Ritchie Valen's "La Bamba" in front of the entire school. He had volunteered because he wanted applause, and he wanted to impress the girls, especially Petra Lopez, the second prettiest girl in school.
About the Author
During rehearsal, Manuel sat in a chair, twirling his record on his thumb. He watched a skit about personal hygiene, a mother-and-daughter violin duo, five first-grade girls jumping rope and a karate kid breaking boards. Then, Benny walked in the stage, raised the trumpet to his mouth, and waited for his cue. When the cue came, he blew and the sound was so loud that Manuel dropped his record, which rolled across the floor until it hit a wall. "Boy, I'm glad it didn't break," he said.
On the night of the talent show, he watched all the other acts, and then he was called onto the stage. He did a couple of fancy dance steps, which got some applause and a couple of screaming girls. But then the record got stuck, and he had to sing Para bailar la bamba again and again. The audience began to laugh and stand up in their chairs. After the record stopped, he got a lot of applause, and he got the limelight he had wanted.
Gary Soto was born in Fresno, California, on April 12, 1952, to working-class Mexican-American parents. As a teenager and college student, he worked in the fields of the San Joaquin Valley, chopping beets and cotton and picking grapes. He was not academically motivated as a child, but he became interested in poetry during his high school years.