To read ''The Dancers of Sycamore Street'' is to be 14 again, but to enjoy it. It is the story of a ballet production in a small town, as told by the earnest but sharp-eyed and funny Meredith Louise Jackson.
Meredith is a perfect guide for the cataclysm that occurs when the glamorous and slightly seedy world of great choreographer Geoffrey Render collides with determinedly normal Middleton, La. Render is an old friend of Meredith's ballet teacher, Mme. LeBreton (nee Milly Frobish). He gets swept under the wing of the rich Lyda Merrick, visits Mme. LeBreton's class, and ends up choreographing a ''gala'' ballet, in which the LeBreton students will dance at the opening of Merrick Theater.
Nothing in the ensuing maelstrom-in-a-teacup escapes the steady gaze of Meredith. Sniffing out an old romance between ''Madame'' and Render, she stands near them whenever possible, and hears their reminiscences. She regards Mme. LeBreton as over the hill and ''bohemian'' (not one of Middleton's favorite qualities), but she is fiercely loyal to her.
She is a good social observer, too. Her description of the ballet mothers' strenuous admiration of their daughters in the annual open class is hilarious: ''The Mothers raised their usual hullabaloo as we went through the age-old motions of the class, and it was easy to see why Mme. LeBreton barred them from the studio except on such rare occasions as this. Although the individual Mothers were a civilized, even refined lot, they had a group personality that was just plain barbaric. They couldn't keep from talking, laughing, clapping, even shouting encouragements (whatever came in their heads); in fact, as a group they acted like a crowd of spectators at a boxing match.''
They seem exotic to her because her own mother is a lawyer who doesn't have time to bake tutu-shaped cookies for Mothers' Guild bazaars. ''The Mothers'' are capitalized because of the Guild; her own is lower-case and reasonable. ''Do calm down, dear,'' she says, as Meredith speculates feverishly on a remark she has heard, ''that's their business, isn't it?''
Fortunately for us, Meredith stays in a high state of inquisitive excitement. Ballerina rivalries and high school politics are here in the midst of the romance, suspense, and furor of what turns out to be a ballet version of ''Mother Goose.'' (''You're dogs, Meredith,'' a friend who has seen the cast list informs her.) There are small acts of heroism by Madame, and she and Geoffrey Render are intriguing to the end.
Even more intriguing, though, is Meredith herself. Julie L'Enfant doesn't just show us a small town trying on a ballet. Even as we are caught up by our 14 -year-old narrator's enthusiasm, we are touched by this fine portrait of a girl at the end of girlhood.