As a story, "Gentle Ben" is simply boring and poorly written. While it's 192 pages long, the middle 130 pages of the story are completely wasted.
Only the first 30 pages, where Mark befriends a bear named "Gentle Ben", and the last 30 pages, where said bear rescues his father, have any impact on the story. Everything in between is just tawdry filler, and can be safely ignored.
There is nothing exceptional about the friendship or rescue, either. For some reason, a wild bear acts more diffidently towards Mark than a trained, loyal dog would. This is never explained, and instead treated as the most natural occurrence in the world. Ben's act of heroism during the climax is presented with the most rote, barren description.
So okay, it's just another lousy children's book, right? Some mailed-in, maudlin crap?
Well, yes but what draws my ire is the brain-dead and downright dangerous
propaganda it spews forth from every page. Okay, I can partially ignore the predictable drivel that "guns are evil!". It's a foolish, contrived argument made purely through emotion.
But the same book that argues guns are too dangerous consistently makes it a point to note how friendly and safe bears are! There's nothing to fear, kids! You can confidently approach a wild brown bear, and don't even need basic protective devices like bear spray! Anyone who disagrees with this is ridiculed as a fool who doesn't understand Nature.
I can't imagine anything dumber and less divorced from reality than this. The self-proclaimed "Grizzly Man" Timothy Treadwell, who applied the author's world-view in dealing with those very same
Alaskan brown bears ended up being mauled and eaten alive by them.
How this book wasn't the subject of a lawsuit for dispensing potentially suicidal advice is beyond me.
Still, I have to give the author Walt Morey credit for his profound hatred of kids. It's one thing to simply torture children by writing a horrible book.
It's quite another to try to MURDER them in the process!