"What I need is a pal to cheer me up," says Vanessa, so she heads for the pet shop. But her first purchase, a pig ("something I could have milk and cookies with"), has horrid manners, and the next, a "calm, well-behaved sloth," proves out sales clerk Wendell's assessment ("Perhaps a little too calm and well-behaved") when he sleeps through every dance at a party. "Perhaps a talking parrot might be more lively," Wendell suggests next, and, when that doesn't work out, he remains accommodating through Vanessa's selection of a sheep dog, a hermit crab, and a monkey. ("They are almost human," says Wendell.) Of course it's Wendell himself who turns out to be Vanessa's perfect pal, a solution no less right for its inevitability. Rubel's pop-naive pictures, each one as always a frozen, full-front pose, haven't the Rotten Ralph energy; but--with the unmannerly pig pigging out on the dining room table and the monkey swinging on the chandelier--there's enough of Ralph's unruly appeal to liven up Vanessa's quest. . . while also making Wendell look good.