Ten blocks long, Gamble Street is completely integrated and diverse. Charlotte Hayes’s family was one of the first white families to move into the neighborhood, and Noah Piedmont’s was the first African American family to arrive on Gamble Street. Now Charlotte and Noah, both twelve years old, are the best of friends, drawing on each other’s strengths to make the most out of life. Noah, confined to a wheelchair since an accident years ago, and Charlotte play an integral role in their bustling neighborhood—from the annual Gamble Street picnic to the summer block party. As with most close-knit neighborhoods, they know everyone. There’s Mr. Drysdale, the literature teacher at Trenton East Middle School; Jedidia Newby, the thirteen-year-old leader of the neighborhood youth group; Aunt Penny, the Hayeses’ sixtyish live-in housekeeper; Charlotte and Noah’s good friend Leo Scott; and a host of others. Everyone lives somewhere they call home, and for the residents of Gamble Street, home is where the heart is, as well as the adventures and unexpected surprises that make life more interesting.
Patches grabbed the small American flag from his outer boot and began to wave it in the air. Patches crossed the finished line, dragging the young man behind him. The young man looked awful. When Patches released his belt, the young man fell to the ground and crawled under a big oak tree, his shoe was still in the sack He could barely speak, he just murmured under his breathe, "Call 911, Call 911." Patches was gleaming with pride while waving the American flag proudly in the air. He walked over to the oak tree and patted the young man on the shoulder and said, "See ya next year, boy!"
Madinah K. Wakil earned a doctorate in education from St. Louis University. She has worked as a middle school science educator in public schools for thirty years. Wakil has written short stories and a book of poetry. She lives in St. Louis, Missouri, and has three adult children.