No one can believe that young Mark Andersen has actually tamed Ben, a five-year-old Alaskan brown bear, until they see it. Mark's father, against all better judgment but at his wife's gentle urging, buys the bear for Mark and even the skeptics are amazed to see the boy treat his giant pet with utter trust and playfulness. All goes well until a band of drunken men sneak into Ben's shed and goad him out of his winter sleep; Ben in drowsy rage nearly kills one of them and the frightened townspeople force the family to get rid of him. From here on the contrivances mount; a storm, a catastrophe, and a crime finally reunite Mark and his bear. Ben is, of course, living free but still as gentle and obedient as ever. The end is all the more disappointing because the beginning is so good. The author portrays the rapport between boy and wild animal sensitively and plausibly, and, with a more original plot, this story might have been one of the great ones.