An educator, an illustrator and a puppeteer walk into a bar…
…While that could be the beginning of a corny joke, it’s also, save for the bar, the beginning of Linda Briden’s story as an author.
Long before holding her new book, Know Me, in her hands, before retiring, before hosting her first workshop for children, Linda spent her days as a child and youth worker and a special education teacher.
“I’ve always worked with kids that didn’t quite fit the system,” she says. “The system wasn’t designed for these kids. These kids that had some challenges, that had different stories and, perhaps, had strengths and gifts that weren’t quite mainstream.”
After retiring and finally having some time on her hands, Linda felt compelled to find a way to keep helping the kinds of kids she’d spent years working with. This led to two very important things happening — a meeting about pictures and a meeting about puppets.
“It was kind of a perfect storm,” she says of Know Me’s early days. “I connected with this young woman who did the illustrating (Daria Pekh), and she was really keen to do something a little different from what she had been doing. I then developed a business partnership with a woman who’s a puppeteer, and we’ve created a workshop that incorporates the book and a performance piece which uses the text from the book.”
Linda and her Puppeteria workshop partner, Shelley King, wanted to create something to address the bigger ideas of inclusiveness, tolerance, and acknowledging individual stories. The idea of the Know Me workshops and book were born together as chicken and egg, creating completely cohesive and complementary companion pieces to one another.