When I was a sprog, my grandmother bought me a series of videos that were all adpatations of popular fairy tales. I'm not sure when they were made, but my grandmother died in 1996, so she probably bought them at least two years before that. The first one she gave me was Thumbelina, the second one was Rumpelstiltskin, the third was The Shoemaker and the Elves, and there was a fourth one that I don't remember too well (it may have been The Emperor and His Clothes). Here's what I can remember about this video series:
-Each video started out with a live-action sequence of a boy and girl going up a staircase and into an attic. They would then find a dusty storybook and begin reading it, thus beginning the fairy tale, which was fully animated. The boy was kind of a complainer and was often critical of the characters in the stories, but the girl was a bit more fair and practical. Each video ended with a live-action sequence as well, featuring them leaving the attic (or something).
-The Thumbelina story began with a lonely gardener woman wishing for a special companion to share her garden with. She goes to the local sorcerer, who gives the gardener a flower. From this flower, Thumbelina is born, and the woman names her. Some time passes, and Thumbelina makes friends with a blue bird whose name I can't remember. Eventually, Thumbelina is taken in by a caring but obtuse mouse woman who was named something like "Mrs. Widget". Subsequently, Thumbelina is introduced the mouse's elderly mole friend, Mr. Budgenot. The mouse schemes to force Thumbelina to marry Mr. Budgenot, but she is saved by her bird friend. At the end, Thumbelina meets the king of the flower fairies, who wants to marry her. She consents, is given a pair of fairy wings, and lives happily ever with the king. (I know there have been many animated versions of the Thumbelina story, but I can't find information about this one anywhere, not even iMDB.)
-In the Rumplestiltskin story, a poor but boastful father tells a traveler that his daughter can spin straw into gold, and displays two family heirlooms as "proof": a golden chain and a ruby ring. The king hears about this, of course, and demands that the girl be brought to him (I can't remember the girl's name, but I think it started with an R). He bids her to spin a bundle of straw into gold overnight, but of course she can't do it. The title character then appears, and offers to perform the task in exchange for the golden necklace. The girl agrees and all the straw gets turned into gold. The king is pleased and wants her to do the same thing the next night. The second time the girl is forced to give Rumpelstiltskin (who seemed to always talk in rhymes) her ruby ring. The king then bids her to convent an entire room full of straw into gold, but this time she "has nothing left but the clothes on [her] back", and thus can't pay Rumpelstiltskin. He agrees to do it only if the girl gives him her first-born child, and she agrees. In the morning, when all the straw is turned into gold, the king announces that she will be married to his son, and that their castle will be decorated with the gold. All goes well, a child is born, but then Rumpelstiltskin appears and demands the child, leading to the name-guessing game. The girl can't guess his name, until she wanders out into the forest one night and hears him say it. She is then able to foil him, but when he disappears, so does all the gold he made. I don't really remember if the story ended here, or if more stuff happened after that. Again, iMDB offers no help.
-The Shoemaker and the Elves was pretty straightforward. A good and talented cobbler sells shoes to everyone in his village, but then doesn't receive any business for a long time. The cobbler almost becomes destitute, but the three elves (who had names like Whiffle, Piffle, and Dandykin, or something to that effect) come in one night and make a fabulous pair of shoes that a wealthy man pays a high price for. The shop then receives a lot of attention, and the elves continue to make beautiful shoes. Every morning, after they had finished working, the leader elf would say, "We'd better go, or the last moonbeam will leave without us". At the end, the shoemaker and his wife acknowledge the elves and make them tiny shoes and hats to wear as a reward. Everything ends quite happily.
So, does anyone even remotely recall something like this? These stories were obviously direct-to-video, becase they were quite short. It doesn't help, of course, that I can't recall what name the series was given, if any. Any kind of comments or memories would be appreciated.