Through most of Just Plain Cat (above), Chris' neighbor Veronica is just the kind of child you love to hate. In her own story we see her enduring the snobbish private school she's bragged about to Chris, making herself even less popular with the bragging she does to impress the other girls. She behaves still worse at the library, making a terrible scene when she finds that her friend the children's librarian has let all the Polly Winkler mysteries go out. But largely through the Polly Winkler stories--and despite her showing-off, ungenerous behavior, and hurtful remarks when she's troubled--Veronica makes two real friends. The first is a classmate, loner Hilary, who turns out, with her older sister Samantha, to be ""the nicest girls [Veronica] has ever met""--nice enough so she tan even adroit her mistakes and laugh with them. Then there is Melody, all of ten, the rival Polly Winkler reader, to whom Veronica writes mean notes at first. . . before they get together to protest the closing of their library branch in a letter that gets published in the newspaper. Veronica is overcome with shyness at the sudden publicity, and has been shy too with the admired Samantha and almost humble with Melody. Her joy at having friends who ""like her anyway"" is touching, as are her resolutions to reform her show-off ways. (She is crushed when a lapse prompts Peter to remark ""Boy, that Veronica! What a show-off! She never changes."" ""Veronica was sure she had changed. . . . It must be way down deep, she thought. Way, way down deep!"") Readers' hearts will go out to Veronica the show-off, and that's quite an achievement.