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Lumpito and the Painter from Spain

by Monica Kulling; Dean Griffiths, illus.

Lump, named for the German word for “rascal,” is a beleaguered little dachshund living in Rome with his master, David, and a bullying Afghan hound referred to as “Big Dog.” One day David packs his sportscar and takes Lump on a road trip to visit an artist named Picasso at his home in the south of France. When the famous painter meets the little dog, they form an instant bond, resulting in a relationship that provides the artist with inspiration and an unlikely muse, and gives the dog a happy new home and jaunty new name: Lumpito.

Lumpito and the Painter from Spain is based on a true story, as captured by American photojournalist David Douglas Duncan (Lump’s original owner) in Picasso & Lump: A Dachshund’s Odyssey, published in 2006. The storybook version, by Toronto-based children’s author Monica Kulling, is simple and sweet. Young readers will delight in the small details (who knew Picasso had a goat?), while readers of all ages will relate to the message about the importance of friendship and belonging.

Vancouver Island artist Dean Griffiths illustrates the story with watercolour and pencil sketches. He perfectly captures Lump’s spunky personality, the warm spirit of Picasso, and the special connection between artist and dog. Griffith also sprinkles reproductions of Picasso’s artwork throughout the book, providing an accessible introduction to the master’s works for an audience that might not be quite ready for “Guernica.”

In real life, Lump lived with Picasso for six years before becoming ill and being taken to Germany for treatment. However, the focus of this storybook is the affection shared by Lump and the artist, who doted on the little dog, immortalizing him in numerous paintings and drawings during their time together.