Cricket Books

"Perceptive and witty. You don't have to be Scottish to understand and enjoy this book."

— Mary Harris Russell, Chicago Tribune 

"Even readers without Scottish ancestors will be fascinated by the history and lore Ernst deftly inserts into the story."
— American Library Association Booklist

Highland Fling
is the eleventh of Kathleen's published books, and her only Young Adult (YA) novel. It is written for readers who enjoy contemporary fiction without sex, gore, or explicit violence.

Story Description

A year ago, Tanya Zeshonski was living in Wisconsin, interning at the public television station, and eating Polish food on the holidays. Then her mother divorced her father, reclaimed her maiden name of MacDonald, and moved to North Carolina to submerge them all in their Scottish heritage.

So now, at 15, Tanya is the oldest beginning student at the Flora MacDonald School of Highland Dance. Instead of pursuing her dream of being a filmmaker, she’s learning the Highland Fling, one of the national dances of Scotland. Learning it means a lot to her mother, though, so Tanya resigns herself to practicing for the biggest event of the summer, the Cross Creek Highland Games.

At the games, Tanya must face not only the intricacies of the dance, but the complications brought on by a handsome bagpiper named Miguel, a ghostly ancestor, and the arrival of her father. Tanya’s sharp, funny voice rings true as she describes the delicate steps of the dance and the beginning of her new life. 

This book is available as a 215-page hardcover book.

What Others Are Saying


Logo of Kirkus Reviews.  Kirkus Reviews
February 15, 2006 Issue

"There are a lot of strands here and Ernst balances them nicely... divorce, recovery and anger; what it takes to make a documentary, do a Scots dance or play the pipes; the haunting nature of history, culture and racial memory. Meanwhile, prickly, over-organized Tanya discovers the wild, strong women in her past."

Photo of Bob Spears of Heartland Reviews. Bob Spears, Heartland Reviews
Scientifically-based book reviews from the heart

"This YA is about coping, adapting, and coming out from one’s shell to see life from more than one’s own point of view. This award winning author who has written for the American Girls historical mystery series, portrays a girl with a lot of angst who still manages to get outside herself, finding an important new friend in the process. We rated this book five hearts."

About the Author

Bestselling author Kathleen Ernst writes award-winning mysteries, historical fiction, and non-fiction for adults and young readers.

Her work has earned numerous honors, including two lifetime writing achievement awards, an Emmy for educational television, and an Edgar Allan Poe and multiple Agatha Christie mystery award nominations.

To date nearly 1.8 million audio, ebook, and print copies of Kathleen's thirty-eight published books have been purchased. more>>

Related Blog Posts

Enjoy the author's insights about the story, characters, and settings.

Highland Fling: The Stories Behind The Story

Photo by author Kathleen Ernst of a highland dance competition at Grandfather Mountain Highland Games. I attended my first Highland Games at Macalester College in St. Paul. I loved visiting the cultural tents. I loved watching the dancing and the heavy athletic events. The highlight, though, came when the massed pipe bands took the field... more>>

Available From

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You can buy signed, printed copies of this book directly from the author. Request a quote by clicking HERE.

Author's Note

I have long been fascinated by the possibility that our ancestors' experiences are somehow encoded in our genes. Even though we don't know how to access specific information, such genetic memory might explain why we sometimes have strong emotions about certain places, experiences, or activities. I wrote Highland Fling to explore that notion.

This book is dedicated to my daughter, Meghan, whose selection of Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, brought me to my first Scottish Games.  It was that experience, and my time working in public television, that inspired Highland Fling.

While often overlooked because it's my only contemporary novel, I'd be delighted if you gave it a try. (And no you don't have to be Scottish to enjoy it!) 

Book Goodies

Partial image of the book cover of "Highland Fling" written by Kathleen Ernst, published by Cricket Books. PREVIEW
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Teachers's Guide - Icon TEACHER'S GUIDE
For teachers and

Dancing the Highland Fling

These girls are doing the Highland Fling in a dance competition at the Halkirk Highland Games in Scotland, just as Tanya does at the fictional Cross Creek Games in Highland FlingPLAY

Highland Games - Halkirk Scotland - 2010

Massed Pipe Bands

A common feature of Scottish Highland Games is a presentation by all the bagpipe bands in attendance, such as this one videotaped in 2007 at Pleasanton, California. A massed pipe band performance takes place in Highland FlingPLAY

Massed Pipe Bands - Pleasanton Scottish Games - 2007


A Considered History of Clan MacDonald, Alexander MacRae, Amazing Grace, Ancestral Memory, Ancient Feud, Apostle Islands, Argyllshire, Avid, Bagpipes, Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary, Birkies, Black Bitch of Dunstaffnage, Blue Bonnets Dance, Border Collie, Bratwurst, Brigadoon, B-Roll, By Sea And By Land, Camcorder, Campbell-MacDonald Feud, Cape Fear, Christina Campbell, Clachneart, Clan Armstrong, Clan Campbell, Clan McDonald, Clan Tent, Cricket Books, Cross Creek Highland Games, Cross Creek Pines Pipe Band, Culloden, Cultural Geography, Dance Bag, Documentaries, Duck Weed, Dunstaffnage Castlle, Fayetteville North Carolina, Festival Grounds, Fiction, Fiona MacGregor, Flora McDonald, Flora McDonald School of Highland Dance, Gaelic, Genealogy, Genetic Memory, Ghillies, Gillie Chalium, Glen O'the Clans, Golabki, Grades 6 to 10, Grandma Dokken, Green Bay, Green Bay Wisconsin, Green M&M's, Haggis, Haggis Hurl, Hammer Hurling, Heavies, Highland Dance, Highland Dance Competition, Highland Games, Highland High School, Highlanders, Hurling Stones, Isabel Haldane, Isla De Culebra, Jane Campbell, Jig, Kathleen Ernst, Kielbasa, Kilt, Lady MacKintosh, Lake Superior, Laurinburg North Carolina, Lemina Minor, Lilt Dance, Lowlanders, Margaret Murray, Massacre Of Glencoe, Massed Bands, Miguel Moreno, Miss Janet, Misty Glen School of Highland Dancing, Mrs Martingale, Nan Zeshonski, Nanag, North Carolina, Parade of Tartans, PBS, Pierogies, Pipe Band, Polish, Polish-American, Pond Scum, Post-Production, Puerto Rican, Puerto Rico, Reels, Reenactors, Sailor's Hornpipe, Scotland, Scotland County North Carolina, Scotland The Brave, Scottish, Scottish American, Scottish Ancestors, Scottish Heritage, Scottish Heritage Center, Scottish Official Board of Highland Dancing, Scottish Shortbread, Seann Triubhas, Sheaf Toss, Skirling, Sporran, Strathspey, Sword Dance, Tanya McDonald Zeshonski, Targe, Tartans, The Proud Thistle, Vegetarian, Videography, Wisconsin, WPNE