Originally published as A Friend Called Ben. The heart-warming true story of a little boy and the cat that changed his life. Nine year old George was severely autistic; quiet and withdrawn, he appeared lost in his own world most of the time. His mother Julia despaired, but try as she might she couldn't bring him out of his shell. Then one day a small, black-and-white stray cat appeared at the bottom of her garden and George's face lit up at the sight of him. Despite herself Julia agreed to adopt him as a pet. George named his new friend Ben, and the four-legged addition to the household had a wonderful and unexpected side-effect. George and Ben bonded, and George began to open up; to play with Ben, to converse with him and make up stories about their adventures together to excitedly recount to Julia. For Julia this was a magical way to communicate with her son – and Ben had made it possible. For three happy years, the trio were inseparable and George made remarkable progress. But then disaster struck – Ben went missing. The small cat who had coaxed George out of a world of silence had disappeared, and nobody could find him. George was utterly devastated and, pining for his lost friend, he began to retreat into himself. Sensing her son was slipping through her fingers once more, Julia embarked on a desperate search; a search that would see her travelling across numerous counties, risking injury and enlisting help from all different places, and all different people. The weeks turned into months, and Christmas was fast approaching but George did not want to celebrate without Ben by his side. Julia privately despaired of ever finding her son's best friend but four days before Christmas Day, during the worst snowfall ever, Julia got a call from a family living in Brighton, over 50 miles from their home in London, which finally offered a ray of hope … Captivating, uplifting and genuinely touching, Ben’s Gift is a remarkable true story about the extraordinary devotion and empathy between a little boy and his cat, and a mother's determined journey to make her son whole again.