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Lil Libros Finally Adds Musician Ritchie Valens To The List Of Icons Highlighted In Bilingual Children’s Books

Lil’ Libros has been gifting Latino parents the gift of a single children’s book read in two languages to promote bilingualism in Latino niños around the world. The stories are all about Latino icons that have shaped and defined our culture throughout history, honoring stories like Mexican painter Frida Kahlo and Cuban music legend, Celia Cruz. With nearly 20 books in the collection so far, we thought Lil’ Libros couldn’t get any cuter or more relevant until it added the story of Ricardo “Ritchie” Valenzuela in “The Life of / La Vida de: Ritchie.”

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The children’s book will cover all the highlights of Ritchie’s life.

Credit: lil_libros / Instagram

“Born May 13, 1941, Ritchie Valens was a Mexican-American singer, songwriter, and guitarist,” reads the book description. “His musical journey began at age 5 when his father encouraged him to take up guitar. In high school, he made his performing debut with the band The Silhouettes. At 17, Ritchie recorded his final record, which included classics like “Donna” and “La Bamba”. That record went on to sell over one million copies. To this day, Ritchie  Valens’ music lives on in the hearts of many!”

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Ritchie followed his passions, and they became a gift to the music world.

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Ritchie is considered the father of the Chicano rock movement. He was the son of two Mexican immigrants, born in the Los Angeles valley as Richard Steven Valenzuela. Even though Ritchie was left-handed, he taught himself how to play the guitar, trumpet, and drums, and was so in love with music, he learned it all with a dominant right hand. He was always bringing his guitar to his high school to play for his friends. By the time he was 16 years old, he was invited to join The Silhouettes, and eventually became the lead singer. He only released two records during his lifetime, and is best known for “La Bamba.” He’s also known for being the first Latino to successfully cross over into the U.S. mainstream rock genre, inspiring Selena, Café Tacuba, Los Lobos, Los Lonely Boys, and even Carlos Santana to fuse Latinidad with rock.

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We *doubt* they’ll include that Ritchie dropped out of high school.

Credit: lil_libros / Instagram

He became a raging success with the release of his first and only three records and dropped out of school to keep up with his career. Ritchie actually didn’t know any Spanish, and his family only spoke English and Spanglish in their house. He learned to sing “La Bamba” in Spanish by learning the song phonetically. Just this year, The U.S. Library of Congress selected “La Bamba” to be preserved in the National Recording Registry as “culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant.”

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Or Ritchie’s tragic death by a plane crash at just 17 years old.

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Ritchie had a fear of flying that he eventually overcome throughout his short-lived music career. His fear started during the second term of his junior year in high school. Two airplanes collided over the school’s playground on January 31, 1957, killing and injuring several of his friends. It all happened while Ritchie was at his abuelo’s funeral. His first flight was to Philadelphia to appear on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand show, where he performed “Come On, Let’s Go.” The following month, he was flying to Hawaii to perform with Buddy Holly and Paul Anka.

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Ritchie won a coin toss that fateful February 2, 1959 winter day in Iowa that won him a spot on a small plane that would later crash and kill everyone on the plane. His band had been traveling by tour bus throughout the Midwest without adequate heating, causing them all to catch the flu and, in one case, even frostbite. They were desperate to get on a flight out, and only the guitarist, Tommy Allsup, and bassist Waylon Jennings were spared, simply because they lost their coin tosses. 

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Ritchie took off at 12:55 am and crashed just minutes later.

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Still, nobody knows why the plane crashed. It killed everyone on impact. Ritchie suffered a blunt force trauma to the chest and unsurvivable head injuries, dying at just 17 years old. His death inspired Don McLean to write “American Pie,” forever remembering February 3 as “The Day the Music Died.” The music may have died by Ritchie’s legacy continues to live on, now in both Spanish and English at storytimes.

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A 13-Year-Old Boy Was Shot Point-Blank, Unprovoked In His Front Yard; His Family Demands Answers From Police

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A 13-Year-Old Boy Was Shot Point-Blank, Unprovoked In His Front Yard; His Family Demands Answers From Police

Brayan Zavala/Photo: GOFUNDME

A family in Riverdale of Clayton County, Georgia is expressing frustration at the lack of progress the police have made in finding the killer of 13-year-old son Brayan Zavala. “We want justice,” said Brayan’s 16-year-old brother, Jesus. “We want to find whoever killed my brother so he can go to jail and pay for what he did.”

According to the deceased boy’s family, last Thursday, Brayan had been working on the front lawn with his brother and father when a masked gunman approached the property. The gunman didn’t answer when Brayan’s father asked him what he wanted. Instead, unprovoked, the stranger took out his shotgun and shot Brayan at point-blank range in the face. Stunned, the family tried to fight for Brayan’s life as the gunman fled the scene.

“The shooter didn’t even say I want your money, or this is a robbery or I’m assaulting you. He just came, stood there (in) silence and shot my brother.” his 16-year-old brother, Jesus, explained to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “We tried to stop all the blood but by the time the police got here, it didn’t seem like he had life or a chance to live.”

The children of Mexican immigrants, the death is especially tragic. “We decided to live here for a better life, turns out it is worse,” Jesus told local news station Fox 5. “This is just like Mexico. They kill because they wanna kill. That is what just happens.”

According to Jesus, Brayan was a A-student on the honor roll, always trying to stay out of trouble. “Me, my brother, my sister, we study and then do our chores, and study. We’re just focused on doing the things, you know, productivity. And going somewhere,” said Jesus told local news station Fox 5.

“He was a cheerful kid. Always smiling, joking. Like I said, always avoiding problems instead of causing problems. I don’t know why this happened to him.”

The senseless killing has shaken the community who don’t understand what would provoke an inexplicable murder of a child. Law enforcement, as well, can’t make sense of it.

“As a Clayton County police officer for over 38 years very little shocks me. But, this brutal, senseless murder has overwhelmed me,” a Clayton County Police officer named Doug Jewett wrote to the AJC. “I send my prayers to the family.”

As of now, the family is trying to pick up the pieces of their life, setting up a GoFundMe page to finance Brayan’s funeral costs. The Clayton County police department has asked anyone with information to call (770) 477-4479. As of now, no suspects have been reported or arrested, and the family is calling for justice.

“It’s been a week now since my brother died and I haven’t heard anything, no answers from police,” Jesus told Atlanta 11 Alive news. “It makes me feel really frustrated that they don’t think it’s a big deal. I mean, they killed my little brother.”

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Four Mexican Children Have Been Nominated For The Children’s Peace Prize And Here’s Why They Each Deserve To Win

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Four Mexican Children Have Been Nominated For The Children’s Peace Prize And Here’s Why They Each Deserve To Win

Yasin Yagci / Getty Images

Mexico is celebrating four compassionate children who have each been nominated for a prestigious international award, for their dedication to solving issues within their own communities.

Three kids from Oaxaca and one from Sinaloa have been nominated for the International Children’s Peace Award – which is award to children from around the world who have made an effort to promote the rights of children and improve the situation of vulnerable minors.

Each of Mexico’s four nominees have done so much for their communities – and the world at large – that it’s going to be a close contest to decide who is the ultimate winner.

Four kids from Mexico are in the running for a prestigious international peace award.

Among 138 children from 42 countries, four Mexican kids have been nominated for the International Children’s Peace Award, which is awarded to minors who have made an effort to promote the rights of children and improve the situation of vulnerable minors.

The award comes with a €100,000 (about $117,000 USD) prize which can be used to invest in the solutions they’ve been championing. In fact, one of last year’s winners was climate change activist Greta Thunberg and peace advocate Divina Maloum from Cameroon.

On this occasion, Mexico’s nominees are counting on the win and include three nominees from Oaxaca and one from the state of Sinaloa.

Each of the children nominated have done incredible work to help solve issues in their communities.

In order to be nominated for the award and to be considered for the top prize, children must demonstrate their commitment to making a “special effort to promote children’s rights and better the situation of vulnerable children,” according to the Children’s Peace Prize website.

It goes without saying that each of Mexico’s four nominees have already checked off each of those requirements, with each of them making major advancements in issues that affect their communities, their country, and children from around the world.

In fact, the issues this group of children have been taking on range from combatting bullying and domestic violence, to increasing access to education, protecting young women and girls from endemic violence, and combatting the global Covid-19 pandemic.

One nominee from Oaxaca founded her own foundation to help advance the issues she cares about.

In an interview with Milenio, Georgina Martínez, 17, said that the award represents a great opportunity.

“This year we are among the 142 nominees from 42 different countries and I believe that without a doubt there is a commitment from all of us as Mexican children and young people to win it to continue fighting for our dreams,” she said.

Martínez, who won the national youth award in 2017, has been working for the rights of children and young people for 10 years through various campaigns, such as “Boys and Girls to the Rescue”, which focused on helping vulnerable minors combat bullying and domestic violence. She also supported the Nutrikids campaign that fed minors in precarious situations, worked to build classrooms in impoverished communities, and has also been a speaker at various conferences.

“My activism began when I was 9 years old, when I participated in the ninth parliament of the girls and boys of Mexico, where I was a children’s legislator. We spent a week at the Chamber of Deputies to work in favor of children’s rights. There I realized that my voice could be heard and that I could be the voice of many children who perhaps did not have access to many of their rights such as education and health,” she told Milenio.

Young Georgina Martínez is in her last year of high school, and she has in mind to continue working in the present and the future to continue being a person and agent of change.

Martínez’s brother is also in the running for his work against the Covid-19 pandemic.

Jorge Martínez, the 13-year-old brother of Georgina, considers it a great honor to represent Oaxaca in the contest.

“I was nominated for my masks project, which consists of using 3D printing to print universal headbands and make acrylic masks, which I donate to hospitals,” he told Milenio.

“I started by making 100 masks, which I financed with my savings, and donated them to the children’s hospital to help hospitalized children so that they wouldn’t be infected with Covid-19. The project went viral allowing me to grow the project and it soon gained international attention,” he added.

Many of his neighbors and friends consider him to be an actual genius but he’s far too modest to take on that title. He said that “the truth is, all this technology is something that I like a lot and it’s fun to be able to work in fields that you enjoy.”

Martínez also shared his plans for the future, telling Milenio that he’d love to move to China to be able to work in robotics and engineering.

Oaxaca also has a third nominee in the global contest.

Oaxaca’s third nominee for the prize is a young ballet dancer, activist, and storyteller – Aleida Ruiz Sosa – who is a defender of women’s rights. She’s currently studying online as she finishes high school and plans to pursue a law degree, in addition to advancing her dance career.

She’s been a longstanding voice for women.

“Since I was very young I have worked hard to help my community. I have a collection of stories called “Rainbow”, that speaks out about violence against women. In fact, I worked with the Attorney General of Oaxaca, and the main thing is that all the proceeds from the sale of these stories will go to the young victims of femicide,” she told Milenio.

Also nominated is 16-year-old Enrique Ángel Figueroa Salazar of Mazatlán, who is passionate about children’s rights and wishes to change local, federal and global societies so that children can live a life free of violence.

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