Vuthy “Woody” Kuon – author, illustrator, cartoonist, publisher, and speaker visits Johnston McQueen, tells students how one teacher made a difference in his life.
By Diane Perkins
Vuthy “Woody” Kuon recently spoke and autographed books at Johnston-McQueen Elementary School. Kuon was born in Cambodia in the 70’s during the civil war. His entire town was later placed into a refugee camp in Thailand. His life changed when a catholic family in Houston sponsored his family and moved them to Houston. By 2nd grade Kuon lived in Sharpstown, Texas near Houston.
While in 2nd grade, his teacher asked him to read for the class. He admits he was very nervous and read very fast, and he knew the teacher would criticize him like the previous ones. Instead the teacher praised him and mentioned only the good things about his reading. After this praise and encouragement, he began making straight A’s in school. This teacher set in motion what was inside her young student. Kuon from then on with hard work has been climbing the ladder of success. This inspiration is what drives him to inspire children. Also as a child, he liked to draw. Sketching the characters he saw in comic books as well as creating his very own character called Max. Max was a dog with a Mohawk. He created Max into a pull-a-part toy and sold it to his classmates. He then started selling his art work while still in elementary school.
In middle school, he helped with a fund raiser for his Spanish club. He discovered that candy really sold well in school. So even after the fund raiser was over his mom bought candy from Sam’s Club and he sold them for a small profit to help feed his family – a new entrepreneur was in the making. Later, Kuon went on to make handcrafted hacky sacs with checker board patterns. Today, he has his own publishing company, Providence publishing. He is author and publisher of children’s books. In addition, Kuon is a cartoonist, book illustrator and well-sought after speaker. He speaks at schools across the country inspiring young minds for excellence.